The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

He was fond of him in the abstract. Last year he had been tried once or twice." she said. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. anyway. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. His figure was thin and wiry. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. . Jackson intervened. Bob disdained to reply. "Anyhow." was his reference to the sponge incident. "Hullo. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail." "Considering there are eight old colours left. His third remark was of a practical nature. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters." she said." The aspersion stung Marjory. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers."Wrykyn will do him a world of good." This was mere stereo. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. "Go on with your breakfast. Marjory. Marjory gave tongue again. Mrs. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. if he sweats. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. He was a sound bat. you little beast. I bet he does. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her." "We aren't in the same house. and the missing member of the family appeared." Bob was in Donaldson's. but preferred him at a distance." she muttered truculently through it. This year it should be all right. In face. "I bet he gets in before you. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. "All right. he was curiously like his brother Joe. The door opened." said Bob loftily. That's one comfort. who had shown signs of finishing it." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam." he said. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. Mike was her special ally. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. "sorry I'm late. Marjory. He might get his third.

"Good. Mike was his special favourite. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. the professional." "Is he. Saunders. you're going to Wrykyn." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. and every spring since Joe. put a green baize cloth over that kid. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke." shouted Marjory. Mr. with improvements. sound article. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. you're going to Wrykyn next term. like Mike. in six-eight time. The strength could only come with years. somebody. There was nothing the matter with Bob. ages ago. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. Saunders. Whereat Gladys Maud. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama." "Oh. It was a great moment. what's under that dish?" "Mike." began Mr." he said. But he was not a cricket genius. as follows: "Mike Wryky. Mike Wryky. "I say. was engaged in putting up the net." she said. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. In Bob he would turn out a good. assisted by the gardener's boy. Jackson believed in private coaching. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. So was father." groaned Bob. "Mike. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year."I say. "Mike. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. you know. "Mike. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on." From Phyllis. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. "All the boys were there. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. Mike put on his pads. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast." From Ella. suddenly drew a long breath. but the style was there already. aged three. the eldest of the family. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. Mike looked round the table. obliged with a solo of her own composition. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. Gladys Maud Evangeline. Joe's style.

" "Yes. but I meant next term. Still. and watched more hopefully. Saunders?" she asked. he was playing more strongly than usual. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife." "No. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. miss. you see. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. Ready." As Saunders had said. too. I'm not saying it mightn't be."School team. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. in a manner of speaking. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. you see." Marjory sat down again beside the net. isn't he? He's better than Bob. The whole thing is. I don't. as she returned the ball." "But Mike's jolly strong. Saunders. and nineteen perhaps. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. it was all there." said the professional. It's quite likely that it will. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. I was only saying don't count on it. and that's where the runs come in. He's got as much style as Mr. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. It's all there." "Ah. miss. "Next term!" he said. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. There's a young gentleman. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. "Well. a sort of pageant. "He hit that hard enough. miss. didn't he. It would be a record if he did. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. miss. miss. Going to a public school. Master Mike? Play. You know these school professionals. miss. and it stands to reason they're stronger. Joe's got. Saunders? He's awfully good. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. only all I say is don't count on it. we'll hope for the best. with Master Mike. it's this way. perhaps. That's what he'll be playing for. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. What are they like?" "Well. every bit. To-day. especially at ." Saunders looked a little doubtful. Don't you think he might.

Mr. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. and his reflections. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. nor profound. It might be true that some day he would play for England. Donaldson's. On the other hand. Bob. was to board the train at East Wobsley. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. is no great hardship. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. Bob. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. frankly bored with the whole business. He wore a bowler hat. however. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. The air was full of last messages. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. and carried a small . to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. but then Bob only recognised one house. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. And as Marjory. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. He had a sharp face. smiling vaguely.the beginning of the summer term. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. Meanwhile. by all accounts. the train drew up at a small station. According to Bob they had no earthly. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. He was excited. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. and now the thing had come about. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. The latter were not numerous. Gladys Maud cried. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. and he was nothing special. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. and Mrs. with rather a prominent nose.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Phyllis. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. Mothers. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. his magazines. in time to come down with a handsome tip). there was Bob. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. He was alone in the carriage. in his opinion. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. the village idiot. was on the verge of the first eleven. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. The train gathered speed. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. While he was engaged on these reflections. though evidently some years older.

Mike acted from the best motives. you know. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. got up and looked through the open window. He was only travelling a short way. Anyhow. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him." "No chance of that.portmanteau. stared at Mike again. If he wanted a magazine. instead. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. He opened the door. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. The other made no overtures. I regret to say. and took the seat opposite to Mike. The trainwas already moving quite fast. And here. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines." "Thank you. "Good business. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself." "Here you are. let him ask for it. sir. The fellow had forgotten his bag. which is always fatal. but. He realised in an instant what had happened. sir. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. then." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. but. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. after all." "Because. lying snugly in the rack. sir. he seemed to carry enough side for three. . and finally sat down. the bag had better be returned at once. He seemed about to make some remark. thought Mike. and at the next stop got out." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. That explained his magazineless condition. and wondered if he wanted anything. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks." said Mike to himself. "Porter. Judging by appearances. He did not like the looks of him particularly. Besides.

" said the stranger. I say." "It wasn't that. "Have you changed carriages. though not intentionally so. or what?" "No. Then it ceased abruptly. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. . A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. escaped with a flesh wound. and said as much. This was one of them." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station." explained Mike. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. "Don't _grin_.(Porter Robinson." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. "I thought you'd got out there for good.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. Mike grinned at the recollection." said Mike. "The fact is. It hit a porter. who happened to be in the line of fire. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. "Hullo. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters." said Mike. looking out of the window." Against his will." said Mike hurriedly. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. which did not occur for a good many miles. "I'm awfully sorry. The head was surmounted by a bowler. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. dash it. you little beast." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station." he shouted. "I chucked it out. "Then. and." The situation was becoming difficult. What you want is a frightful kicking." The guard blew his whistle. "There's nothing to laugh at. and the other jumped into the carriage.

He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. rather lucky you've met. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. all the same. listening the while. I mean. It's just the sort . there you are." "I mean. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. thinking he'd got out. it's all right." "Frightful. He realised that school politics were being talked. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. Gazeka?" "Yes. They'll send it on by the next train." "You're a bit of a rotter. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. Lots of things in it I wanted. holidays as well as term." said Bob. "Hullo." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. "Oh. He took up his magazine again." "Oh. Bob. I say. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. By the way. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. and all that sort of thing."Hullo. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt." said Mike." agreed Firby-Smith. "I swear. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. They were discussing Wain's now." "Naturally. only he hadn't really. and it's at a station miles back. are you in Wain's?" he said. "I've made rather an ass of myself. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. never mind. and yet they have to be together. Mike. "I say. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. then it's certain to be all right. it's a bit thick. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. He grinned again. if I were in Wyatt's place." "Frightful nuisance. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window." "Oh. "He and Wain never get on very well. "It must be pretty rotten for him. though not aggressive. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. what happened was this. I should rot about like anything. Good cricketer and footballer. He's in your house. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves." said Bob. It's bound to turn up some time.

but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. leaving him to find his way for himself. here we are. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. It was Wrykyn at last. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. has no perplexities. which is your dorm. Hullo. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. See you later. and. and it's the only Christian train they run. Mike started out boldly. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea." he said. Go straight on. They'll send your luggage on later. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage." he concluded airily. a blue blazer. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. . all more or less straight. it is simplicity itself. and so on. Mike. and lost his way. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. "Heaps of them must come by this line. and a straw hat with a coloured band. Plainly a Wrykynian. and tell you all about things. Mike made for him. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. and looked about him. But here they were alone. I think you'd better nip up to the school. Probably Wain will want to see you.of life he'll hate most. Crossing the square was a short. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. Go in which direction he would. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. on alighting. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob." Mike looked out of the window." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. Silly idea. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians." Bob looked at Mike. So long. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre." he said. with a happy inspiration. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. To the man who knows.

You can't quite raise a team. So you're the newest make of Jackson. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. A stout fellow." "Are you there. "Oh. Only a private school. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "Hullo. are you Wyatt. There's no close season for me. He had a pleasant. latest model. He felt that they saw the humour in things. "That's pretty useful. you're going to the school. then?" asked Mike. "Pity." said the other." said Mike. "It was only against kids. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked." said Mike." said the stranger." "I know. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. shuffling." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson." said Mike awkwardly. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers."Can you tell me the way to the school. this is fame." "Oh. "How many?" "Seven altogether. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. it was really awfully rotten bowling. You know." he said. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. How did you know my name. please. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. square-jawed face. you know. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes." added Mike modestly. He's in Donaldson's. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays." said Mike. "You look rather lost. And . too?" "I played a bit at my last school. you know. Any more centuries?" "Yes. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's.

Let's go in here. cut out of the hill. everything. I know. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. At the top of the hill came the school. answering for himself. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. And my pater always has a pro. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. We shall want some batting in the house this term. where." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school." said Mike. "I say. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. down in the Easter holidays. We all have our troubles." said Wyatt. walking along the path that divided the two terraces." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. a shade too narrow . too." he said. The next terrace was the biggest of all." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. Everything looked so big--the buildings. That's his. Look here. and took in the size of his new home." said Mike. it's jolly big. I believe. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. He felt out of the picture." said Mike cautiously." "Yes. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. He's head of Wain's." "All the same." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. Mike followed his finger. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner." "Oh. I was just going to have some tea. which gave me a bit of an advantage. thanks awfully. a beautiful piece of turf. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. but that's his misfortune. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. "He's all right. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. though no games were played on it." said Wyatt. You come along. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. They skirted the cricket field. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. the grounds. "That's Wain's. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. At Emsworth.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

but Bob did not know this. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. It did not make him conceited. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. "Sugar?" asked Bob. "Thanks. Mike had skipped these years. please. it is apt to throw us off our balance. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. Beyond asking him occasionally. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. all right"). And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. "How many lumps?" "Two. and his batting was undeniable. As a rule. and his conscience smote him. "Well. Bob was changing into his cricket things. "Oh. Mike arrived." said Mike. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. at school. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. to give him good advice. He was older than the average new boy. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. when they met. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. There is nothing more heady than success. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school." . "Oh. all right." "Cake?" "Thanks. if only for one performance. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. Silence." said Mike.

"Oh." said Mike." he said. "I can look after myself all right. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. filled his cup. I'm not saying anything against you so far. you've got on so well at cricket. Only you see what I mean. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. "It's only this. "Look here. thanks. Mike. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you." said Mike cautiously." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. "You know. I should take care what . in the third and so on. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. while Bob. What I mean to say is. outraged. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. of course. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. I'm not saying a word against you so far. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. "You've been all right up to now." added Bob. and spoke crushingly. "He needn't trouble. "He said he'd look after you. if you don't watch yourself." said Bob. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." he said at length. Bob pulled himself together. Jackson. "Yes. You know." he said. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good." said Bob." "What do you mean?" said Mike. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side.Silence. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. "Like him?" "Yes." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "What!" said Mike." said Bob. Look after him! Him!! M. making things worse. "I shouldn't--I mean. and cast about him for further words of wisdom.

He felt very sore against Bob. I mean. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. You'd better be going and changing." Mike shuffled. I've got to be off myself. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. Stick on here a bit. A good innings at the third eleven net. I'm going over to the nets." he said. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. because he's leaving at the end of the term. if you want any more tea." said the Gazeka. young man. "I promised I would. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. I wanted to see you. "All right. of course." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. Thing is. Not that he would try to. all spectacles and front teeth. "Ah. young man. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. spoke again. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. That youth. Don't cheek your . Don't make a frightful row in the house. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. "I've been hearing all about're doing with Wyatt. But don't you go doing it. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. he's an awfully good chap. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. so said nothing. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. He's never been dropped on yet. But don't let him drag you into anything. He's that sort of chap." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. met Mike at the door of Wain's. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. "What rot!" said Mike. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. He doesn't care a hang what he does.") "Come up to my study. it doesn't matter much for him." Mike followed him in silence to his study. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. though. (Mike disliked being called "young man. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned." "What do you mean?" "Well. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it.

as I'm morally certain to be some day. too. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. You'll find that useful when the time comes. I shall be deadly. He opened his eyes. "When I'm caught. "Is that you. That's all." "Are you going out?" "I am. you can't. and hitting it into space every time." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. Anyhow. Cut along. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. He got out of bed and went to the window.elders and betters. just the sort of night on which. So long. with or without an air-pistol. not with shame and remorse. increased. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. The room was almost light. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. but he ." And Wyatt. Mustn't miss a chance like this. and the second time he gave up the struggle. you stay where you are. of wanting to do something actively illegal. Like Eric. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. Overcoming this feeling. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. Wash. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. by a slight sound. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt." he said. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. wriggled out. or night rather. and up to his dormitory to change. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. but with rage and all that sort of thing. It was a lovely night." "I say." said Wyatt. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. He sat up in bed. "No. He would have given much to be with him. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. but he had never felt wider awake. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. he burned. Specially as there's a good moon. if he had been at home. he walked out of the room. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. "Hullo. would just have suited Mike's mood." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. but it was not so easy to do it. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt." said Wyatt.

" And. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. Mr. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. perhaps. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. _". Then a beautiful. As it swished into the glass. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. Mr. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. very loud and nasal. There were the remains of supper on the table. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. as indeed he was. he examined the room. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . He had been long enough in the house to know the way. Field actually did so. He took some more biscuits. Wain's. All thought of risk left him. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. along the passage to the left. Food. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. Field). After which. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. he proceeded to look about him. He was not alarmed. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. feeling that he was doing himself well. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. The soda-water may have got into his head. This was Life. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. To make himself more secure he locked that door. after a few preliminary chords. Mike recognised it as Mr. He finished it. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. And this was where the trouble began. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. wound the machine up. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. The next moment. and there was an end of it. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. then. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. A voice accompanied the banging. Down the stairs.. one leading into Wain's part of the house. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. It would be quite safe. and an apple."_ Mike stood and drained it in.. It was quite late now. consoling thought came to him. He had promised not to leave the house. the other into the boys' section. Everybody would be in bed. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. and set it going.realised that he was on parole. turning up the incandescent light. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. feeling a new man.

The handle-rattling was resumed. Evidently his . So long as the frontal attack was kept up. Then he began to be equal to it. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. and dashed down the dark stairs. If. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. but he must not overdo the thing. He jumped out of bed. on entering the room. He lay there. though it was not likely. It was open now." pondered Mike. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels." thought Mike. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. that if Mr. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. breathless. And at the same time. and he sat up. to date. was that he must get into the garden somehow. and get caught. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. His position was impregnable. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. This was good. Two minutes later he was in bed. and found that they were after him. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. and warn Wyatt. on the other hand. he opened the window. suspicion would be diverted. Wain. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. He stopped the gramophone. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. and could get away by the other. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike.need to be alarmed. just in time. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. "He'd clear out. "would A. "Now what." The answer was simple. J. he must keep Mr. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. and reflected. Wain from coming to the dormitory. and he'd locked one door. The main point. the most exciting episode of his life. the kernel of the whole thing. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. It had occurred to him. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger.

"So I came down. I thought I heard a noise." "I found the window open. "Thought I heard a noise. drew inspiration from it. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. He looked like some weird bird." said Mike. Mr. He spun round at the knock. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. sir. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. "Of course not. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. Wain. sir. I don't know why I asked. sir. sir. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded." "A noise?" "A row. thin man. Wain hurriedly. Mr. in spite of his anxiety. sir. and went in. looking out. of course not. All this is very unsettling. Mr." If it was Mr. and. please. He wore spectacles." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr." said Mike. sir. Jackson. catching sight of the gramophone." said Mr." "A noise?" "Please. sir. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. Wain continued to stare." . "Of course not. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. "Please. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. He looked about him.retreat had been made just in time. He knocked at the door. sir!" said Mike." "Looks like it. could barely check a laugh. His hair was ruffled. Wain was standing at the window. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. Mike. Wain was a tall. a row. "_Me_. please. through which he peered owlishly at Mike.

" Mr. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. sir. Wain." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. and hit Mike smartly over the shins." cried Mike. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. An inarticulate protest from Mr."He's probably in the garden. There might be a bit of a row on his return. His knees were covered with mould. I mean. sir. "You young ass. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. such an ass. The moon had gone behind the clouds. Wain. "Who on earth's that?" it said." said Wyatt." "Yes." said Mr. "Not likely. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. "He might be still in the house. I know. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. sir. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. "Is that you." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. sir. sir. then tore for the regions at the back. ruminatively. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. you might . He felt that all was well." "Perhaps you are right. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. Jackson. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him." Mr. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. eliciting sharp howls of pain. _"Et tu. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. He ran to the window. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. Mike stopped. as who should say. Wain looked at the shrubbery. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery.

may I come in?" "Come in! Of course." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. Or. standing outside with his hands on the sill. sir. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. Well. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. Come in at once. Latin and least have the sense to walk quietly. you see.' Ripping it was. it was rather a rotten thing to do. till Wain came along. "It's miles from his bedroom. come in. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. sir. You dash along then." Mr. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. You must tread like a policeman." Mike clambered through the window. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. The thing was. if you like. "You're a genius." "Undoubtedly. I suppose." said Mike." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. so excited. Exceedingly so. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. "But how the dickens did he hear you. "I never saw such a man. It was very wrong of you to search for him." "That's not a bad idea. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. "Undoubtedly so. He must have got out of the garden. Exceedingly so" . I will not have it. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared." said Mr. Have you no sense. but you don't understand." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. Wain." he said. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. but I turned on the gramophone. All right." "It wasn't that." "Yes. I'll get back. and I'll go back to the dining-room." "Please. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. "I couldn't find him. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. You will do me two hundred lines. Wain was still in the dining-room. "You have no business to be excited. you might come down too. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. sir. You have been seriously injured. I will not have it.

sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. He called Mr. Wain "father" in private. James. It is preposterous. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. preparatory to going on the river. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. "Stay where you are. "sir" in public. "I was under the impression." "But the burglar. sir. "Under no circumstances whatever. The question stung Mr. Mr. In these circumstances. You hear me. one leg in the room. "I thought I heard a noise. He yawned before he spoke. getting tea ready. hanging over space. and have a look round. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once." he said. And. you will both be punished with extreme severity. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. Inordinately so.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. you understand me? To bed at once. the other outside. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. watching some one else work. sir." They made it so. Wain into active eruption once more." said Mike. "only he has got away. . Both of you go to bed immediately." "Shall I go out into the garden. I must be obeyed instantly. James--and you. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. sir?" said Wyatt." he said. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. of Donaldson's. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm." said Mike. "We might catch him. Clowes was on the window-sill. He loved to sit in this attitude. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. Jackson? James. At least Trevor was in the study. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes." he said excitedly. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory.

Better order it to-day." "Silly ass. you'd have let your people send him here. Did I want them spread about the school? No. packing . "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun." "See it done. two excess." "My mind at the moment. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. Aged fifteen.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. we see my brother two terms ago. I'm thinking of Life. 'One Clowes is luxury. we shall want some more jam to-morrow." "That shows your sense. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. I suppose it's fun to him. "One for the pot. I did not. you slacker. Like the heroes of the school stories. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign.'" "You were right there. I should think. and very much in earnest over all that he did.' I say. but can't think of Life." said Clowes. I said. If you'd been a silly ass. "All right. Trevor. Not a bad chap in his way. My people wanted to send him here. Couple of years younger than me." said Trevor. Trevor. I often say to people. Clowes was tall. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. Where is he? Your brother. Consider it unsaid. which he was not." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. 'Good chap." breathed Trevor. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. "I said. Trevor was shorter." "You aren't doing a stroke.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. I mean. Hence.' At least. as our old pal Nero used to remark." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. I lodged a protest." "Too busy. Cheek's what I call it. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. Tigellinus. Trevor?" "One. I have a brother myself. Have you got any brothers." "Marlborough. "Come and help. 'and he's all right." "My lad. where is he? Among the also-rans. But when it comes to deep thought.' That's what I say. I say." said Clowes." said Trevor. and looked sad. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. slicing bread. laddie. That's a thing you couldn't do.

so far. and he's very decent. It may be all right after they're left. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. fawned upon by masters. revered by all who don't. What's wrong with him? Besides. courted by boys. but while they're there. Now. If I frown----" "Oh. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. so he broods over him like a policeman. It's the masters you've got to consider. too. but. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. For once in your life you've touched the spot." he said." "What's up? Does he rag?" . In other words. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. At present. and tooling off to Rugby. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. he returned to his subject. however. I've talked to him several times at the nets. "Mr. Bob seems to be trying the first way. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. It's just the one used by chaps' people. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. as I said." said Trevor." "Young Jackson seems all right. At the end of that period." "What a rotten argument. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. it's the limit. considering his cricket. the term's only just started. who looks on him as no sportsman. And here am I at Wrykyn. naturally. We were on the subject of brothers at school. loved by all who know me. My heart bleeds for Bob. which is what I should do myself. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks." "Well?" "Look here. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot." "Why?" "Well. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. perhaps. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble.up his little box." "That's just it. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. come on. You say Jackson's all right. which he might easily do. It's all right. But the term's hardly started yet. with an unstained reputation. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. I suppose." "Jackson's all right. he is.

" "I don't know. For instance. But what's the good of worrying. if Jackson's so thick with him. anyhow." "If you must tell anybody. He's head of Wain's. I shouldn't think so. every other night. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days." "All front teeth and side. that he'll be roped into it too. unless he leaves before it comes off. Well." Trevor looked disturbed. and does them. tell the Gazeka. and. . and which is bound to make rows between them." "He never seems to be in extra. It's nothing to do with us. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm." "Yes. he's on the spot." "I know. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. You'd only make him do the policeman business. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. Still. And if you're caught at that game. however. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. it's the boot every time. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. which he hasn't time for. walking back to the house. Better leave him alone. One always sees him about on half-holidays. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. The odds are." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. He's asking for trouble."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. too. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. Besides. Let's stagger out. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it." "The Gazeka is a fool. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything.

It's his last. I think. If Wyatt likes to risk it." "Oh." "That's all right then. I didn't mean that brother. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. Well?" "About your brother." "I've done that." said Bob. being in the same house." "Oh. though. oiling a bat. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. Only he is rather mucking about this term. all right." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt." he said. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. I forgot to get the evening paper.He found him in his study." "I should get blamed. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. He'd have more chance." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him." "I know. Bob. Why?" "It's this way." "Don't blame him. "I say. That's his look out. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. bewildered. "look here. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. I spoke to him about it. you did? That's all right. "That reminds me. I say. W." "Not a bit." . Rather rot. you know." "I should." "Nor do I. that I know of. sitting up. J. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. then. I meant the one here. I hear." "Oh. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. I think I'll speak to him again. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. Are you busy?" "No." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. by Jove. Smith said he'd speak to him. but. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. "My brother.

" "Yes. . and you are standing in a shower-bath. I asked him what he thought of me. Better than J.' There's a subtle difference. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family." "Better than at the beginning of the term. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. he thinks. I was away a lot. when suddenly there is a hush." "Sort of infant prodigy. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about." He went back to his study. to coach you in the holidays. Nearly all the first are leaving. and there falls on you from space one big drop. Henfrey'll be captain. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. when they meet. W. And." "Saunders. I suppose he'll get his first next year. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. I simply couldn't do a thing then. anyhow. "I thought I heard it go. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. it's not been chucked away. and 51. even. Mr.s. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. and he said. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. and Bob. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. It is just the same with a row. The next moment the thing has begun. at home. don't you?" "Yes." "Well." said Trevor. though. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term." "Hope so. You have a pro. Bob. I expect. and had beaten them.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. You were rather in form. Some trivial episode occurs. for years. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. the pro. I didn't go to him much this last time. Pretty good for his first term. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. started on his Thucydides. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn.W. 18.

On the Monday they were public property. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. day. as a . The thing had happened after this fashion. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. lengthened by speeches. and I got bowled). only they bar one another) told me about it. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play.S. together with the school choir. He's Wain's step-son. and half the chaps are acting. because I didn't get an innings.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. "MIKE. I hope you are quite well. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. but didn't do much. I had to dive for it.W. I didn't do much. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. The banquet. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. He was in it all right. So I didn't go in.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill.W.--I say. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. "P. B. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys." And. Low down. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. only I'd rather it was five bob. "Your loving son." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. Jones. I wasn't in it. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. because they won the toss and made 215.W. and Spence). so we stop from lunch to four. only I don't quite know where he comes in. Rather rot. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. the Surrey man. Rather decent. and 30 in a form match. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. on the back of the envelope. Love to everybody. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. so I played. I may get another shot.S. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket.P. I believe he's rather sick about it. They stop the cricket on O.--Thanks awfully for your letter.--Half-a-crown would do. lasted. "P. There's a dinner after the matches on O. He was run out after he'd got ten. and there was rather a row. songs. Still. Rot I call it. Bob played for the first. could you? I'm rather broke.

one's views are apt to alter. Words can be overlooked. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality.rule. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. rural type of hooliganism. About midway between Wrykyn. and. as usual. . and hit Wyatt on the right ear. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. essentially candid and personal. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. and had been the custom for generations back. for the honour of the school. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. It was the custom. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. But there were others. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. and that the criticisms were. accordingly. When. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. and the authorities. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. the town. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. brainless. the school. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. it was not considered worth it. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. Risks which before supper seemed great. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. As a rule. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. The school was always anxious for a row. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. This was the official programme. and Wrykyn. which they used. Wrykyn. In the present crisis. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. But tomatoes cannot. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. in the midst of their festivities. all might yet have been peace. show a tendency to dwindle. Possibly." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. as a rule. and then race back to their houses. therefore. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. till about ten o'clock. the town. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. and turn in. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp.

and then kicks your shins. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself." he said quietly. A move was made towards the pond. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. depressed looking pond. it looked unspeakable at night. . The science was on the side of the school. at any rate at first.There was a moment of suspense. of whose presence you had no idea. By the side of the road at this point was a green. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. now splitting up into little groups. when a new voice made itself heard." it said. They were smarting under a sense of injury. except the prisoners. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. But. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. and stampeded as one man. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. but two remained. Gloomy in the daytime. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. now in a solid mass. It raged up and down the road without a pause. panting. it was no time for science. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. and the procession had halted on the brink. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. while some dear friend of his. Barely a dozen remained." he said. He very seldom lost his temper. for they suddenly gave the fight up. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. Wyatt. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. The leaders were beyond recall. "Let's chuck 'em in there. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. "Now then. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. It struck Wyatt. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring.

young gentleman. You can't do anything here. Carry on. you chaps. Constable Butt. and seized the captive by the arm. whoever you are. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. but if out quick they may not get on to you. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. scrambled out. you chaps. He'll have churned up a bit." said Wyatt. Butt. or you'll go typhoid. "All right. That's what we are." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. Butt. "Make 'em leave hold of us. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. sprang forward." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. and suspecting impudence by instinct. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. are they? Come now. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. I expect there are leeches and things there. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. "This is quite a private matter. a cheer from the launching party. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred." "Ho!" said the policeman. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. The policeman realised his peril too late. "Ho. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. going in second. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. "You run along on your beat. it's an execution. a lark's a lark. A howl from the townee. He ploughed his way to the bank." "Stop!" From Mr. and vanished." said Wyatt. The prisoner did. Mr. a yell from the policeman." "It's anything but a lark. understanding but dimly." said Mr. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. This isn't a lark. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke."What's all this?" "It's all right. Butt. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. Don't swallow more than you can help. but you ought to know where to stop. and a splash compared with which . with a change in his voice." "I don't want none of your lip. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond.

the first had been as nothing. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. Butt fierce and revengeful. with a certain sad relish.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. before any one can realise what is happening. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. Mr. It was no occasion for light apologies. sir." said Wyatt. calling upon the headmaster. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. sheets of fire are racing over the country. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. and throws away the match. Following the chain of events. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. we find Mr. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. Butt. Butt. and "with them. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. Wyatt. sir. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. it has become world-famous. really!" said the headmaster. but in the present case. and. Mr. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. and all was over. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so)." as they say in the courts of law. "Threw me in. I shall--certainly----" . and the interested neighbours are following their example. with others. they did." "Threw you in!" "Yes. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. "Really. Butt gave free rein to it. went to look for the thrower. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. Yes. but both comparisons may stand. "Do you know. having prudently changed his clothes. Police Constable Alfred Butt. The imagination of the force is proverbial. _Plop_!" said Mr. The tomato hit Wyatt. sir.

Had he been a motorist. "How many boys were there?" he asked." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist." said Mr. I will look into the matter at once. "I was on my beat. ''Allo. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_.' And. sir!" said the policeman. Butt started it again." "I have never heard of such a thing. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. again with the confidential air. constable. 'a frakkus. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. beginning to suspect something." he added." The headmaster's frown deepened. sir. They shall be punished. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. He .' I says. I says to myself." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. They actually seized you." "Yes.' I says. "I _was_ wet. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. and fighting. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. 'Why. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. sir." concluded Mr. sir. with the air of one confiding a secret. 'Wot's this all about. too. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. sir. Butt promptly. sir.' And. Mr. I wonder?' I says. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. sir. Good-night. right from the beginning. sir. As it was.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. sir! Mrs." "Yes. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake." "H'm--Well. and I couldn't see not to say properly. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. "Couple of 'undred. "Two hundred!" "It was dark." "Yes--Thank you." "Good-night. I can hardly believe that it is possible. sir. Wringin' wet. She says to me. Lots of them all gathered together. Butt. and I thought I heard a disturbance. according to discretion. sir.

The school was thunderstruck. however. was culpable. about a week before the pond episode. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. become public property.. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. which at one time had looked like being fatal. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. I say!" Everybody was saying it. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. and the school. The blow had fallen. but for one malcontent. and in private at that. he got the impression that the school.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. A public school has no Hyde Park. which was followed throughout the kingdom." they had said. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. it is certain--that. When condensed. It happened that. It could not understand it. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery.. .W. and not of only one or two individuals. It was one vast. "There'll be a frightful row about it. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. of course. It must always. Only two days before the O. And here they were. always ready to stop work. The pond affair had. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. astounded "Here. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. or nearly always. he would have asked for their names. blank. There is every probability--in fact.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. They were not malicious. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. right in it after all.. as a whole. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. As it was. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. expend itself in words. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. and finally become a mere vague memory. though not always in those words. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it.

" Neville-Smith stopped and stared. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. intense respect for order and authority. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. He said it was a swindle. Before he came to Wyatt." "You're rotting. He added that something ought to be done about it. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. a day-boy. and that it was a beastly shame. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. Leaders of men are rare." "All right. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. their ironbound conservatism. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. a daring sort of person. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. even though he may not approve of it. and scenting sarcasm. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. as a whole." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly." "Why not?" said Wyatt. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes.The malcontent was Wyatt. "Well. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. on the whole. and probably considered himself. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. and he was full of it. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. Wyatt was unmoved. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. I'm not going to. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt." . "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. It requires genius to sway a school. that it was all rot. and. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him.

"I say. wouldn't it be?" "Yes." "You'll get sacked." "I suppose so. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." said Wyatt." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . Wyatt whistling." "That would be a start. "It would be a bit of a rag. they couldn't do much. If the whole school took Friday off. Are you just going to cut off. excited way." said Neville-Smith after a pause."No. what a score. and let you know. ragging barred." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. They couldn't sack the whole school. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. Groups kept forming in corners apart. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. but. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. But only because I shall be the only one to do it." "I say. I say." "By Jove. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith. "Do." Another pause." "Not bad." "I could get quite a lot. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. I believe. I should be glad of a little company. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings." "All right.

looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. of the Lower Fifth. trying to get in in time to answer their names. and at three minutes to nine. I should have got up an hour later. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. as a general rule." "Somebody would have turned up by now. "I say. to Brown. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. the only other occupant of the form-room. Some one might have let us know." "So do I. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late." "So should I. I can't make it out. however. were empty. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. came on bicycles. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night.W. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. though unable to interfere. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school." said Brown. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. Why. but it had its leaven of day-boys. The majority of these lived in the town. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you." said Willoughby. "It's jolly rum. rather to the scandal of the authorities. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. whose homes were farther away. saying it was on again all right. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. it's just striking. like the gravel. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form." . A few. who. I say. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters.'s day row. and walked to school. The form-rooms. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. what a swindle if he did. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car.

" It was the master of the Lower Fifth. A brisk conversation was going on. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. And they were all very puzzled." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. "Willoughby. Spence pondered. Several voices hailed Mr. Spence?" Mr. sir. Perhaps. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. sir." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. Spence told himself. sir. Seeing the obvious void. after all. as he walked to the Common Room." Mr. Spence. "Hullo." "None of the boarders?" "No. as you say. there is a holiday to-day. if the holiday had been put on again. sir. sir. he stopped in his stride. He walked briskly into the room. we don't know. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. Spence as he entered." "I've heard nothing about it." "Yes. and the notice was not brought to me. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. sir. as was his habit." "We were just wondering. and lived by himself in rooms in the town." he said." "This is extraordinary. Spence. The usual lot who come on bikes. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. "Well. and a few more were standing." Mr. sir. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been."Hullo. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. . and looked puzzled. Brown. We were just wondering. Spence seated himself on the table. He was not a house-master. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Not a single one. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. here _is_ somebody. Mr.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

And two days later. Other inns were called upon for help. and apples. as generalissimo of the expedition. with comments and elaborations. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. and he always ended with the words. net practice was just coming to an end when. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. He always told that as his best story. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. Private citizens rallied round with bread. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. As the army drew near to the school. And the army lunched sumptuously. "Anything I can do for you. "Yes. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. Wyatt. singing the school song. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. * * * * * At the school. They descended on the place like an army of locusts." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. jam. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. and as evening began to fall. fortunately. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. At the school gates only a handful were left. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. Presently the sounds grew more distinct." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. It was not a market-day. please. At Worfield the expedition lunched. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. faintly. In the early afternoon they rested. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. the march home was started. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant." the leading inn of the town. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. . It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. They looked weary but cheerful.his paper. each house claiming its representatives. In addition. it melted away little by little." said Wyatt.

He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. "this is all right. isn't it! He's funked it. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. speechless. There was. What do you mean? Why?" "Well." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood.Bob Jackson. "My dear chap. walking back to Donaldson's. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. This was the announcement. I thought he would. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. Finds the job too big to tackle." Wyatt was damping. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. The school streamed downstairs. "I say. It hasn't started yet. met Wyatt at the gate. Now for it." he chuckled." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. and gazed at him. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. indeed." he said." He then gave the nod of dismissal. marvelling. thought the school. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. they didn't send in the bill right away. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. The less astute of the picnickers. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. "Hullo." said Wyatt. But it came all . Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. were openly exulting. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance.

" said Mike ruefully. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. as they went back to the house. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. "None of the kids are in it. He was quite fresh. I was one of the first to get it." Wyatt was right. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred." he said. It was a comprehensive document." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. then?" "Rather." said Clowes. He lowers all records.right. "By Gad. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. "I don't know what you call getting off. Rather a good thing. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. You wait. To-day." . I notice." "Thanks. "What!" "Yes. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. the school sergeant. who was walking a little stiffly. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday." said Mike. "he is an old sportsman. I'm glad you got off. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. as he read the huge scroll. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." Wyatt roared with laughter." "Sting?" "Should think it did. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. The headmaster had acted. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval." "Glad you think it funny." "Do you think he's going to do something. I never saw such a man. Buns were forgotten." it began. It left out little. They surged round it. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. and post them outside the school shop. Only the bigger fellows.

so you're all right. incidentally." "You don't think there's any chance of it. captain of Wrykyn cricket. whatever his batting was like." said Wyatt seriously. But there'll be several vacancies. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. The present was one of the rare . who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. Don't break down. overcome. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. So you field like a demon this afternoon. that's the lot." said Mike indignantly."Well. rather. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. like everybody else. rather." "I'm not breaking down. You'll probably get my place in the team. buck up.C." "I should be awfully sick. making a century in record time). especially as he's a bowler himself. Probably Druce. "All right." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. I thought you weren't." continued Wyatt. Fielding especially. That's next Wednesday. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. Adams. Any more? No. I should think they'd give you a chance." * * * * * Billy Burgess." "Well." "An extra's nothing much. Me. it isn't you. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot." said Mike uncomfortably. Anyhow. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No.C. Let's see. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. "Or. I don't blame him either. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. match. one of the places. He had his day-dreams." said Mike. "it's awfully decent of you. Wyatt." "I say." "Oh. if his fielding was something extra special." said Mike. "I'm not rotting. what rot!" "It is. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. really. Ashe. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. Still." "You needn't rot. if it were me." "I say. by Jove! I forgot. was a genial giant. you're better off than I am.

What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. And I'd jump on the sack first. I've dropped my stud." said Wyatt.C. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. give me a kiss. There it is in the corner. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply.. in the excitement of the moment the M. "Eight." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. Dash. I was on the spot. Wyatt found him in his study.C." "You haven't got a mind. I will say that for him." "Why don't you play him against the M. He's as tall as I am." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. "He's as good a bat as his brother. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. jumping at his opportunity. match went clean out of my mind. That kid's good. and let's be friends. That's your trouble. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when ." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. shortly before lock-up. he isn't small. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. Besides. "The fact is." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked. "Come on. full of strange oaths." grumbled Burgess." "I suppose he is. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. as Wyatt appeared. and drop you into the river.C. like the soldier in Shakespeare. and a better field. For a hundred and three.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. Then he returned to the attack." "Right ho!.." "Rot. "I'm awfully sorry. Bill.C.

" he said. and his heart missed a beat. gassing to your grandchildren. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. "Think it over. "You know. Better stick to the men at the top of the second.C. Jackson. there is a curious. B. That kid's a genius at cricket." Burgess hesitated. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. bottom but one. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. how you 'discovered' M. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. better . I shall be locked out. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. For. So long." said Wyatt. then. "You rotter." Wyatt got up. His own name. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. at Lord's. "Just give him a trial. "I'll think it over. Give him a shot. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves." he said." "You play him. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. "All right. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. He read it." said Wyatt." Wyatt stopped for breath. wouldn't you? Very well. and you rave about top men in the second. poor kids. Burgess." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. Wyatt. just above the W.C. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren.C. CHAPTER XIII THE M. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. The bell went ages ago. it's a bit risky. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. chaps who play forward at everything. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav.C. even Joe." said Burgess." "Good. Everything seems hushed and expectant.

"Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. Three chaps are in extra. the lost. isn't he. Master Joe. Saunders?" "He is. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. "Got all the strokes. Saunders!" cried Mike. feeling quite hollow. here he is." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. and quite suddenly. Hullo." "Well. you'll make a hundred to-day. so that they could walk over together. Mike walked across from Wain's. "By Jove. and I got one of the places. you know." "Of course. Master Mike. sir. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. I always said it." he said. "Isn't it ripping. to wait.C. where he had changed. and then they'll have to put you in. team came down the steps. "Why. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. as Saunders had done." "Well.. hopeless feeling left Mike. I'm hanged! Young marvel. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment." said Saunders. and stopped dead. sir. I'm only playing as a sub. Only wants the strength. He could almost have cried with pure fright. saw him. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. when the strangeness has worn off. He stopped short." Joe took Mike by the shoulder.C. Master Mike.after lunch." he chuckled." said Saunders. "Didn't I always say it. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. "Why.

was feeling just the same. and was l. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. . but Bob fumbled it. Saunders is our only bowler. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. aren't you. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. just when things seemed most hopeless. getting in front of his wicket. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. sorry as a captain. and playing for the school. conscious of being an uncertain field. but he is. Burgess was glad as a private individual. team. The wicket was hard and true. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. but he contrived to chop it away. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch.C.C. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. as usual." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. You wait till he gets at us to-day. exhibiting Mike. It was a moment too painful for words. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness.b. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. As a captain. On the other hand.M. missed it. The M. for Joe. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. And. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. almost held it a second time.w. dropped it. You are only ten. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. Joe began to open his shoulders. and the pair gradually settled down. "Aged ten last birthday. tried to late-cut a rising ball. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. For himself. "I never saw such a family." "This is our star. and hoping that nothing would come his way." "I _have_ won the toss." said the other with dignity. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. who grinned bashfully. Bob. still taking risks. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. not to mention the other first-class men. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage.C. It was the easiest of slip-catches. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so.C. The Authentic. relief came. At twenty. The beginning of the game was quiet.

a little on the slow side. Two hundred went up. coming in last. and was stumped next ball. "Better have a go for them. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. Both batsmen were completely at home. Runs came with fair regularity. things settled down. and the M. "Lobs. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. Saunders. there was scarcely time. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. His second hit had just lifted the M. "By Jove. Then came lunch. all round the wicket. was optimistic. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. but exceedingly hard to shift. Then Joe reached his century. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. hit two boundaries. After this. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace.C. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. third-change bowlers had been put on. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. the first-wicket man. Morris. however. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. was a thoroughly sound bat. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. total over the three hundred. was stumped half-way through the third. Four after four. Some years before. the end was very near. to make the runs. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. I wish I was in. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven." he said to Berridge and Marsh. and two hundred and fifty. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. A comfortable. Berridge. Following out this courageous advice. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. as usual." said Burgess.C. but wickets fell at intervals.C. against Ripton. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. Burgess. invincible. on the present occasion. Joe was still in at one end. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. Unfortunately. The hundred went up at five o'clock. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. the hundred and fifty at half-past. and was then caught by Mike.C. the school first pair.The school revived. A hundred an hour is quick work.

. It was the same story to-day. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. "and it's ten past six. Lobs are the most dangerous. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. For a time things went well. At last he arrived. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. by a series of disasters. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. As a matter of fact. all through gentle taps along the ground. and Morris. And that was the end of Marsh. Bob Jackson went in next. fumbling at a glove. seemed to give Morris no trouble. three of them victims to the lobs. Twenty runs were added. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. Stick in. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. he felt better. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. He had refused to be tempted. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment." All!." he added to Mike. At the wickets. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. tottered out into the sunshine. Morris was still in at one end. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. Saunders.. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. five wickets were down. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance." said Burgess.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. and Mike. because they had earned it. It was his turn next. as if he hated to have to do these things. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. and a thin. . The first over yielded six runs. insinuating things in the world. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. Mike drew courage from his attitude. but they were distinctly envious. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. "That's all you've got to do. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. as usual. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. and get the thing over. Bob. He wished he could stop them. He was jogging on steadily to his century. and hit the wicket. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. He knew his teeth were chattering. In the second. The bowler smiled sadly. The long stand was followed. No good trying for the runs now.

He felt equal to the situation. Now. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin." said a voice. and Saunders. "Play straight. did not disturb him. the school was shouting. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. and bowled. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. There was only Reeves to follow him. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. but always a boundary. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. doubtless. sir. Half-past six chimed. besides being conscientious. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. moment Mike felt himself again. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. Burgess continued to hit. sometimes a cut. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. wryly but gratefully. Saunders was a conscientious man. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. Burgess came in. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease." It was Joe. Sometimes a drive. Even the departure of Morris. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. . It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. "To leg. and you can't get out. but he himself must simply stay in. Mike would have liked to have run two. skips and the jump. If so. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs.. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. and invariably hit a boundary. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball.. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. Mike grinned. Twice he was given full tosses to leg." said the umpire. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. which he hit to the terrace bank. The moment had come. The next moment the dreams had come true. he failed signally. just the right distance away from the off-stump.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. The bowling became a shade loose. All nervousness had left him. Saunders was beginning his run. "Don't be in a funk. and. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams.. It was a half-volley. On the other hand. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball.

" said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. to Burgess after the match. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. and missed the wicket by an inch. just failed to reach it. and Mike got his place in the next match." said the wicket-keeper. They might mean anything from "Well. fast left-hand. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. of the School House.C. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. this may not seem an excessive reward. "nothing. naturally. were not brilliant cricketers. He hit out. Mike played it back to the bowler. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on.C." Then came the second colours.The lob bowler had taken himself off." said Wyatt. Mike let it alone. Number two: yorker. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. as has been pointed out. Down on it again in the old familiar way. and we have our eye on you. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. here you are. so you may as well have the thing now. Four: beat him. That meant. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. dropped down into the second. against the Gentlemen of the County. "He's not bad. as many a good man had done before him. But it was all that he expected. All was well. "You are a promising man. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. * * * * * So Wilkins." Mike was a certainty now for the second. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper." said Burgess. Unfortunately for him. the visiting team. however gentlemanly. match. It hummed over his head. "I'll give him another shot. and mid-off." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. Five: another yorker. "I'm sorry about your nose. who had played twice for the first eleven. First one was given one's third eleven cap. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap." But Burgess. at the last ball. almost at a venture. at any rate as far . As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. "I told you so. You won't get any higher. Joe. jumping.

and was thoroughly set. when the Gazeka. of the third eleven. as the star. did better in this match. It happened in this way. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. to the detriment of Mike's character. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. but Firby-Smith. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. and Berridge. who had the bowling. mind you don't go getting swelled head. hit one in the direction of cover-point. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. made a fuss. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. House matches had begun. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a bowling was concerned. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. Bob. making twenty-five. supported by some small change." he said. The school won the toss. having the most tender affection for his dignity. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. "Come on. and. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. _verbatim_. went in first. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. Raikes possessed few subtleties. Then Wain's opened their innings. He was enjoying life amazingly. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. Ellerby. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. eh? Well. "Well. The Gazeka. and Marsh all passing the half-century. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. he waxed fat and kicked. Morris making another placid century. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. not out.C. See? That's all. . Wyatt made a few mighty hits. as head of the house. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. The following. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. match. this score did not show up excessively. For some ten minutes all was peace. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. Mike pounded it vigorously. and he and Wyatt went in first. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. and was then caught at cover. prancing down the pitch. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Run along.C. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings." he shouted. Mike went in first wicket. bursting with fury. He had made seventeen." Mike departed. with Raikes. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. was captain of the side.

At close of play he sought Burgess. thought Firby-Smith. "I want to speak to you. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon.Mike. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. The world swam before Mike's eyes." . "It isn't funny. a man of simple speech. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. shouting "Run!" and. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. Firby-Smith arrived. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. a prefects' meeting. was also head of the school. "You know young Jackson in our house. besides being captain of the eleven. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. and lick him." he said reprovingly. cover having thrown the ball in. "Easy run there. avoided him. And only a prefects' meeting. he was also sensitive on the subject. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that." Burgess looked incredulous. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. And Mike. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. you grinning ape!" he cried. chewing the insult. Burgess. Burgess. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting." he said. Firby-Smith did not grovel. These are solemn moments. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. "What's up?" said Burgess. "Rather a large order." he said. you know. "Don't _laugh_. miss it. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. feeling now a little apprehensive.

"Rather thick. therefore. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_." he said meditatively. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. On the other hand." "Oh. the results of the last few matches. And here was another grievance against fate. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. In the first place."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. Burgess started to laugh. Bob was one of his best friends. It was only fair that Bob should be told." And the matter was left temporarily at that. "Yes. . and particularly the M. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. but he thought the thing over. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. match.C. as the nearest of kin. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. In the second place." said Firby-Smith. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. well--Well. Geddington. Still. Here was he. It became necessary. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion." "He's frightfully conceited. but turned the laugh into a cough. "Well. Besides. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. I mean--A prefects' meeting. Bob occurred to him. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. with the air of one uttering an epigram. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. anyhow. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. I'll think it over. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. and let you know to-morrow. look here. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. were strong this year at batting. he's a decent kid.C.

You know how to put a thing nicely." "It's awfully awkward. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. "Take a pew. can't you? This is me. handsome chap. It's rather hard to see what to do. one's bound to support him. I say. Bob?" he asked. but in fielding there was a great deal. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. He came to me frothing with rage. I sympathise with the kid." "I suppose so.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. and Neville-Smith. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. took his place. sitting over here. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. "Hullo. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. Mike was good. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand." continued Burgess gloomily. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. "Personally. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. you know. I want to see you. the man." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. but he _is_ an ass. dark." he said. Have some?" "No. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. Bob was bad. "Silly young idiot." . What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka." "Well. the captain. you can. "Still. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely." said Bob. Bob.' Billy. thanks. So out Bob had gone. "Still----" "I know. look here. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. The tall. "Busy. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess." he added. "Sickening thing being run out." suggested Burgess.

though. Look here. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. is there? I mean. "You see it now. Bob. made him waver. "Yes?" "Oh. "I didn't think of you. "Well. "I wanted to see you. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. I don't know. you're a pal of his. "I say." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. having to sit there and look on. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me." he said. you know." emended the aggrieved party. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. you're not a bad sort. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable."Awful rot." said Bob. you know." . "Burgess was telling me. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. He wants kicking." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. not much of a catch for me. he became all animation. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. would it be. go and ask him to drop the business. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. nothing--I mean. "Look here. "I that sort. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. You must play the the old Gazeka over." he said. He had a great admiration for Bob. aren't you? Well. You know. I know." he said. He gets right way. "I thought you hadn't. apart from everything else. By now he'll have simmered down a bit." It was a difficult moment for Bob. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. "Don't do that. But he recovered himself. I'm a prefect." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. One cannot help one's thoughts." he said. I tell you what. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know." said Bob. too. Seeing Bob.

" "Thanks. All right then. he. and the offensively forgiving. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. He was a punctured balloon. of course. and owed him many grudges. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. Mike. really. in the course of his address. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. Still." "No." said Burton. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance." "Thanks. He wished he could find some way of repaying him." "Of course it was. of Donaldson's. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit." "What's that?" inquired Mike. Reflection. "I'm specially glad for one reason. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. "I say. . "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. you know. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. After all. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. most of all. he gave him to understand."Well. I think if I saw him and cursed him. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. though without success. Curiously enough. I did run him out. All he wanted was to get the thing done with." said Bob. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. Mike's all right. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. But for Bob. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him." said Mike. there's that. He was not inclined to be critical. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. it was frightful cheek. without interest. he felt grateful to Bob." "Yes. And. so subdued was his fighting spirit. and went to find Mike. and unburdened his soul to him. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. Firby-Smith. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed." and Bob waving them back. and Burton felt revengeful. fourteen years of age. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question.

" "Hope so. On the evening before the Geddington match. * * * * * Mike walked on. He tapped with his right hand. though." And Burgess. Burgess. for his left was in a sling. retiring hurriedly. Good-night. and his decision remained unaltered. "Come in!" yelled the captain." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. They were _all_ beasts. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him." "Good-night. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. yes. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. anyway.54 next morning." said Mike stolidly. some taint. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. in a day or two. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. so that Burton." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. Not once or twice. rather. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door." "I say. Be all right. We wanted your batting. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. CHAPTER XVI ."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. and gradually made up his mind. as it were. He'd have been playing but for you. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8." said Mike. that's bad luck. He kicked Burton. weighing this remark. I suppose?" "Oh. Beastly bad luck. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. He thought the thing over more fully during school." "Thanks. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. too. just before lock-up. but several times.

but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. thanks." "H'm. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. and." "Why aren't you--Hullo. Mike? I want to see a match. "School playing anybody to-day. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. Somebody ought to look at it." "Doctor seen it?" "No." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. really. Now. His telegram arrived during morning school. It's nothing much. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. Coming south. There's a second match on. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. It doesn't matter a bit. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. I think I should like to see the place first. Uncle John. after an adventurous career. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. mainly in Afghanistan." "Hurt?" "Not much. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. I didn't see. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. I'll have a look later on." "I could manage about that. But it's really nothing. Only it's away. Be all right by Monday. Still. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. what shall we do. . at the request of Mike's mother. "It isn't anything. He had thereupon left the service." "Never mind. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. and." "They're playing Geddington." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect.

and they passed on to the cricket field. I didn't know that. it was this Saturday. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. I've got plenty of time. they'll probably keep him in." two or three times in an absent voice. it's Bob's last year. I should think. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. that. "If he does well to-day. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. There are only three vacancies. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. Mike. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago." said Mike. By Jove. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. "That's Trevor." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. He's in the School House. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. "Chap in Donaldson's. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. What bad luck. No wonder you're feeling badly treated." he said enviously." "Rather awkward. as Trevor.Got to be done. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. by George!" remarked Uncle John. but I thought that was only as a substitute. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. The thing was done. and done well. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. I was playing for the first. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. Then there'll be only the last place left. and better do it as soon as possible. A sudden." "Still." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. It was a glorious day." "For the first? For the school! My word. Of course. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. Very nice. "Ah yes. I see. but he choked the feeling down. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. if he does well against Geddington. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. Neville-Smith. They look as if they were getting set. But I wish I ." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school." Uncle John detected the envious note.

and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. then gave it a little twist. sing out. caught a crab. "Geddington 151 for four." said Mike. "Ye--no. "Let's just call at the shop. recovered himself. They got up." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. The telegram read. The next piece of shade that you see. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. and sighed contentedly. Lunch." "Rotten trick for a boy." he began. let me--Done it? Good. Uncle John looked up sharply. but his uncle had already removed the sling. unskilful stroke. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. "It's really nothing." said Mike." "Pull your left. "The worst of a school. "That willow's what you want. . "I hope you don't smoke. Mike?" "No. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. I badly want a pipe." "Not bad that." said Uncle John. Mike was crimson." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. Which reminds me. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. I wonder how Bob's got on.could get in this year. and we'll put in there. Can you manage with one hand? Here." said Mike. When you get to my age you need it." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "Put the rope over that stump. Let's have a look at the wrist." stammered Mike. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." After they had watched the match for an hour. "That hurt?" he asked. as he pulled up-stream with strong. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches.

There was an exam." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. I think. "May as well tell me. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. dash it all then.) "Swear you won't tell him. one may as well tell the truth."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. That's how it was. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. really. on. Mike told it.. so I thought I might as well let him. Mike said nothing. I won't give you away. let his mind wander to Geddington." "I won't tell him. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. while Mike. I was nearly asleep. gaping. Lock-up's at half-past. well. "I know. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. would they give him his cap? Supposing. It had struck him as neat and plausible." When in doubt. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. and his uncle sat up." . Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty." "I ought to be getting back soon.." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Look here. swear you won't tell him. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. "Jove. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. It wasn't that. where his fate was even now being sealed. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington." Uncle John was silent. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. (This. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations..

CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night." he said. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. only they wouldn't let me." Mike worked his way back through the throng. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. Don't fall overboard. thanks. "It was simply baking at Geddington. Marsh 58. I should think. Neville-Smith four)." he added carelessly. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed."Up with the anchor. . and they ragged the whole time. Jackson 48). and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand." He paused for a moment. It was the only possible reply. then. I wanted to go to sleep. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. "By Jove. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. I'm done. Uncle John felt in his pocket. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. and rejoined his uncle. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. How's your wrist?" "Oh. It was a longer message this time. "Bob made forty-eight. I'm going to shove her off." said Mike. "Well?" said Uncle John. "We won. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. eh? We are not observed. as they reached the school gates." Wyatt began to undress. Mike pushed his way through the crowd." "There'll be another telegram. better.

He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. No first. And. He let their best man off twice in one over. though." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. A bit lucky. can't remember who. He was very fond of Bob. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . Chap had a go at it. Bit of luck for Bob. had come to much the same conclusion. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. Bob puts them both on the floor." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Ripping innings bar those two chances. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. off Billy. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. he fell asleep. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. Soothed by these memories. and another chap. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. to-day. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. Only one or two thirds. reviewing the match that night. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Beastly man to bowl to. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. Just lost them the match. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. Their umpire. when he does give a couple of easy chances. If he dwelt on it. he felt." "Most captains would have done."No. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. I was in at the other end. as he lay awake in his cubicle. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. With great guile he had fed this late cut. with watercress round it." "Why. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. too. he would get insomnia. Never saw a clearer case in my life. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate." Burgess. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. Jenkins and Clephane. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse.

As for Mike. of Seymour's. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference." "Well. This did not affect the bulk of the school. accordingly." "All right then. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. Both of them were. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds." "Do you know. and hoped for the day. drop by drop. I can't time them. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. * * * * * In the next two matches. as he stood regarding the game from afar. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. I'm frightfully sorry. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. Bob figured on the boundary. "Look here. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. found his self-confidence returning slowly. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. I know that if a catch does come. Trevor'll hit me up catches. I hate the slips. About your fielding.chance of reforming. Try it. but I mean. I could get time to watch them there. "It's those beastly slip catches." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. I'll practise like mad. Bob. he played for the second. It's simply awful." Bob was all remorse. I shall miss it. I believe I should do better in the deep. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one." "I know. I'm certain the deep would be much better. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. Bob.

The next victim was Marsh. On the Tuesday afternoon. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. what was more important. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . too. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. and in the dingy back shop. Oakes. and returned to the school. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. squealing louder than any two others. where he read _Punch_. Shoeblossom. He made his way there. disappeared from Society. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. he was attending J. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. sucked oranges. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. He. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. Essentially a man of moods. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. Marsh. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. who was top of the school averages. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. The professional advice of Dr. He tried out of doors. Two days later Barry felt queer. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. for chicken-pox. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. at the same moment. Shoeblossom came away. the school doctor.Quiet Student. He tried the junior day-room. and thought of Life. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). and also. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. peace. was called for. G. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. but people threw cushions at him. would be Shoeblossom. He had occasional headaches. and. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. however necessary such an action might seem to him. Upstairs. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. In brief. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. of the first eleven. and at the bottom of the heap. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. the son of the house. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. entering the High Street furtively. Where were his drives now.

The total was a hundred and seven. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. and Mike kept his end up. But on this particular day. bar the servants. for no apparent reason. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. They had only been beaten once. Have to look after my digestion. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. and was not out eleven. doubled this. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. too. The weather may have had something to do with it. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. I've got the taste in my mouth still. Bob." . for Neville-Smith. Sardines on sugar-biscuits.elect. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. they failed miserably. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. did anything to distinguish himself. And I can square them. and after that the rout began. Too old now. and the Incogniti. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. Got through a slice. batting when the wicket was easier. and I'm alone. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. but nobody except Wyatt. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. and ate that. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. batting first on the drying wicket. and the school. All sorts of luxuries. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. three years ago. when Wain's won the footer cup. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. "Well. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. I remember. made a dozen. for rain fell early in the morning. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. His food ran out. Some schools do it in nearly every match. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. going in fourth wicket.

I can't say more than that. Why? What about?" . Not that it matters much really whether I do now." "Oh. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. He got tea ready. of course. was more at his ease. Pity to spoil the record. Bob. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. he poured Mike out a cup. and sat down. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. "Not seen much of each other lately. he would just do it." "Bit better. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. When he had finished." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. Beastly awkward. of course. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. being older." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. making desultory conversation the while. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. We've all been at Wrykyn. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. one wants the best man. I don't know. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. Still. passed him the bread. Mike." "You get on much better in the deep." Mike stared. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. though. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. "because it is. yes. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel." continued Bob." "You were all right. He's bound to get in next year.

sir?' Spence said. now. 'Well. wiping the sweat off his forehead. The pav. And so home. There was nothing much to _be_ said. of course. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. He's a shade better than R. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. 'It's rough on Bob. '_I_ think M. I heard every word. 'Well. Congratulate you. I couldn't help hearing what they said. Bob. It had been his one ambition. sir.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. They shook hands. What do you think. He was sorry for Bob. So Mike edged out of the room. Burgess. rot. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. I fancy you've won. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this." Mike looked at the floor. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped.' said old Bill. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. ." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. and said nothing. I'm jolly glad it's you. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. Well.'s like a sounding-board. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. I waited a bit to give them a good start.' 'Yes. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. 'I don't know what to do. awfully. what I wanted to see you about was this. Spence said. there'll be no comparison. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. in the First room. As it isn't me. 'That's just what I think."Well." resumed Bob. "Thanks. "Well. I was in the pav.' he said. sir. They thought the place was empty. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. and I picked it up and started reading it. and so on. he's cricket-master. After all. but. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration.." said Mike. and tore across to Wain's. Billy agreed with him. just now. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. I'll give you my opinion. to shake his hand. and in a year or two. on the other hand. I'm simply saying what I think. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about.' said Spence. and then sheered off myself. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. 'Decidedly M. It's the fortune of war. and that's what he's there for.'" "Oh. of course. don't let's go to the other extreme. and now he had achieved it. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes." It was the custom at Wrykyn. "Not at all. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. but don't feel bound to act on it." muttered Mike. Billy said.

and this silent alarm proved effective. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. This was to the good. even on a summer morning. dash it. as it always does. And Wyatt was at Bisley.-S. he found that it was five minutes past six.--W. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. F. he felt. It wouldn't do. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. Reaching out a hand for his watch. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been." "Oh. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. He took his quarter of an hour. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. As he passed it. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. therefore.30 to-morrow morning. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one." said Mike. Until he returned. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. orders were orders. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. and a little more. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. a prospect that appealed to him. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. . He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. Still. was not. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. Mike could tell nobody. It would have to be done. The only possible confidant was Wyatt.

Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. Was this right. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. would be bad enough. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. inconvenienced--in short. Didn't you see the notice?" . The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. Who _was_ he. he said to himself. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Now he began to waver.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. he asked himself. Firby-Smith straightened his tie." he said. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. "Young Jackson. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. One simply lies there. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. being ordered about. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. Make the rest of the team fag about. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. One would have felt. and jolly quick. in coming to his den. that Mike. But not a chap who. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. Here was he. and waited. yes. by the way. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. It was time. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. The painful interview took place after breakfast. "look here. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. I want to know what it all means. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. But logic is of no use. Mike thought he would take another minute. and glared. And outside in the cricket-field. looking at him. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. dash it all. he felt.

what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. That's got nothing to do with it." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. and I'm captain of it. You think the place belongs to you." said Mike. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. The rather large grain of truth in what . He mentioned this. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed." "I don't. I've had my eye on you for some time. That's what you've got. "Then you frightful kid. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. you do. as you please. young man. Awfully embarrassing. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. "Six!" "Five past. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. you think you can do what you like." "Oh. but he rather fancied not. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. just listen to me." said the Gazeka shrilly. this. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. you went to sleep again.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. turn up or not. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass." said Mike indignantly. "Yes. It was not according to his complicated. The point is that you're one of the house team. Happy thought: over-slept himself. Frightful swelled head. Just because you've got your second. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. See?" Mike said nothing. and I've seen it coming on. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. You've got swelled head. "Do--you--see. did you? Well.

I didn't hit the bull every time. What one really wants here is a row of stars." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. and I suppose it always will be. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. and surveyed Mike. as he had nearly done once before. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. and stared at a photograph on the wall. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life." he said. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. I'll go down and look. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. If it's a broken heart. He set his teeth. A-ah!" He put down the glass. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton." He left the dormitory. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. water will do. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. for a beaker full of the warm south. Always at it. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar." . Wyatt came back. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. Well. "Do you see?" he asked again. Zam-buk's what you want. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. "Oh. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. "That's the cats. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. and his feelings were hurt. Failing that. full of the true. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. Wyatt was worn out. Very heady. Mike's jaw set more tightly. "What's your trouble?" he asked. but cheerful.

and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. That's discipline. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. silent natures. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. "Nothing like this old '87 water. You stick on side. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. He winked in a friendly way. There are some things you simply can't do." "I mean. 'Talking of side. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. I defy any one to. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. while I get dropped on if I break out. a word in your ear. blood as you are at cricket. "And why. Cheers from the audience. really. 'Jackson. Otherwise. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." "I didn't turn up.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding." "What! Why?" "Oh. If he's captain. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. It's too early in the morning. putting down the jug. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed." "In passing. drew a deep breath. you stick it on. did he buttonhole you on your way to school." "No. you've got to obey him. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. "I say. The speaker then paused. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. and. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. "Such body." "I like you jawing about discipline."He said I stuck on side. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. and say. my gentle che-ild." he said. you'll have a rotten time here. I don't know. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. but." "Why?" "I don't know. and. look here. that 'ere is." said Mike morosely. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes.

Geddington. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches." he concluded modestly. of which so much is talked and written. but it isn't done. and Wilborough formed a group. Dulwich. and St. the other you mustn't ever break. as far as games are concerned. Tonbridge." Mike made no reply. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. There was no actual championship competition. Ripton. That was the match with Ripton. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. Haileybury. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. In this way. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day.saying--just so. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. young Jackson. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. before the Ripton match. really meant. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. His feelings were curiously mixed. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. having beaten Ripton. I thank you. About my breaking out. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. cheerful disregard of. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. . At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. But this did not happen often. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Paul's are a third. or Wrykyn. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. That night. If Wyatt. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. Harrow. "me. Wrykyn. but it generally did. I don't know why. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. if possible. would go down before Wilborough. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. most forms of law and order. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. for the first time in his life. He would have perished rather than admit it. rather. Until you learn that. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. but each played each. Eton. When you're a white-haired old man like me. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. or.

but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. There were two vacancies. Spence. And. But. Finally he had consulted Mr. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. feeling that life was good. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. he postponed the thing. He could write it after tea." said Burgess. The report was more than favourable. and biz is biz. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. As it was. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. there was a week before the match. the sorrier he was for him. "Pleasure is pleasure. * * * * * When school was over. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. and he hated to have to do it. Spence had voted for Mike. "Well held. and held it. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. engrossed in his book. With him at short slip. In case of accident. and he had done well in the earlier matches. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. as the poet has it. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. The more he thought of it. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession.Burgess. If he could have pleased himself. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. and Mr. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. accordingly. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. From small causes great events do spring. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. It was a difficult catch." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. He had fairly earned his place. . he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. and sprint. After all. Bob got to it with one hand. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. he would have kept Bob In. One gave him no trouble. but he was steady. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table.

" There was. That Burgess would feel. but one has one's personal ambitions. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. "You're hot stuff in the deep. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. and became the cricket captain again. He suppressed his personal feelings." "I've just been to the Infirmary. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. "I couldn't get both hands to it. it may be mentioned. in fact. He was glad for the sake of the school. on being told of Mike's slackness." said the Gazeka. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. of course. "Young Jackson. "This way for Iron Wills." said Bob. as who should say. There are many kinds of walk." "Oh." "The frightful kid cut it this morning." "Good. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. It was the cricket captain who. It was decidedly a blow." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it."Hullo. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. nothing. What hard luck it was! There was he. did not enter his mind. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. Burgess passed on. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. do you mean? Oh. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. but it's all right. towards the end of the evening. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him." "Easy when you're only practising. and so he proceeded to tell . All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him." he explained. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. his mind full of Bob once more. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. and all the time the team was filled up." said Bob awkwardly. He'll be able to play on Saturday. Firby-Smith.

and passed on. "Hard luck!" said somebody. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. that looked less like an M. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. Trevor came out of the block. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with in detail. "Congratulate you. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. going out." he said. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. Bob. Bob had beaten him on the tape. than the one on that list. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. He looked at the paper. There was no possibility of mistake. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. * * * * * When." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . "Congratulate you. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. Since writing was invented. therefore. as he was rather late. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. there had never been an R. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. As he stared. Bob stared after him. Mike scarcely heard him. Bob. met Bob coming in. hurrying.

it's jolly rummy. Go and look." . No reason why he shouldn't."Seen what?" "Why the list. you'll have three years in the first. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. for next year. next year seems a very. Here it is. and Burgess agree with him." "Well. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. Just then. very long way off. There was a short silence." "No. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. neither speaking. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. When one has missed one's colours. as the post was late. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. Bob. "I believe there's a mistake. "Anyhow." "Thanks. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. You've got your first. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation." said Mike. You're a cert. if you want to read it. They moved slowly through the cloisters. Mike. Trevor moved on. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. It'll be something to do during Math." "My--what? you're rotting. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. with equal awkwardness. "Got a letter from mother this morning. I'm not. "Thanks awfully." The thing seemed incredible. I showed you the last one." said Mike." he said awkwardly. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. Not much in it. came down the steps. "Congratulate you. This was no place for him. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike." said Bob. "Jolly glad you've got it. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease." "Hope so. feeling very ill. delicately. Bob snatched gladly at the subject.

Bob appeared curiously agitated. These things are like kicks on the shin. "Got that letter?" "Yes. When they had left the crowd behind. and Mike noticed. "Hullo. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it." Mike resented the tone.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. I'll show it you outside. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. but it was lessened. too. seeing that the conversation was . When the bell rang for the interval that morning. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. and which in time disappears altogether. He seemed to have something on his mind. but followed." "After you. for the first time in her life. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. with some surprise." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. even an irritated look. "What's up?" asked Mike. it's for me all right." "No. sitting up and taking nourishment. Haven't had time to look at it yet. Mike heard the words "English Essay. as it were." said Mike amiably. and went up to the headmaster. He looked round. A brief spell of agony. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. and. he stopped." "Why not here?" "Come on. there appeared on his face a worried. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. somebody congratulated Bob again. seeing Mike. Mike was." he said. "Read that. As they went out on the gravel. I'll give it you in the interval." and. that. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. The disappointment was still there."Marjory wrote.

capped the headmaster and walked off." There followed a P. it . but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. Reggie made a duck. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. and ceased to wonder.P. and it's _the_ match of the season. She was jolly sick about it.-"I hope you are quite well.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. but usually she entertained rather than upset people.S. under the desk. Well.--This has been a frightful fag to write. Why don't you do that? "M. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. Phyllis has a cold. I told her it served her right. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. "P. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. She was a breezy correspondent.apparently going to be one of some length. lead up to it. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. Bob had had cause to look worried. with a style of her own. it will be all through Mike. He read it during school. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. He put the missive in his pocket.S. Have you got your first? If you have. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. I am quite well. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. and display it to the best advantage. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document.

or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. If he was going to let out things like that. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. he might at least have whispered them. "I did." "I didn't think you'd ever know. "Did you read it?" "Yes. is it all rot." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. it was beastly awkward. Bob couldn't do much.. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. They met at the nets. but she had put her foot right in it." . "Of course. "Well?" said Bob. I suppose I am. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. The team was filled up. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. You know. So it came out." he said at last." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. that's how it was." said Mike. and would insist on having a look at my arm. "I mean. I couldn't choke him off. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. Marjory meant well. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him." "Well. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. Besides. I don't know. Still. and all that. "How do you mean?" said Mike. and Burgess was not likely to alter it." he broke off hotly. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. "I know I ought to be grateful. He came down when you were away at Geddington. you did _me_ a jolly good turn...made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow.

This is Philosophy. The sensible man realises this. Half a second. I decide to remain here. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. who sat down on an acorn one day." Which he did. but the air was splendid and the view excellent." said Bob to himself. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. finding this impossible." "What about it?" "Well. "Well. and had a not unpleasant time. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. but it never does any good." he said. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. He thought he would go home. . I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. and happened to doze." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. sixty feet from the ground." "I'm hanged if it is." added Mike. "I shall get in next year all right. "I must see Burgess about it. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it." "Oh. He looked helplessly at Mike."I don't remember. and slides out of such situations. admitting himself beaten. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. "Well. Or. when he awoke. but. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. "Anyhow. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. if one does not do that. simply to think no more about them. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. "Besides. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. well. and it grew so rapidly that." He sidled off. he altered his plans. Others try to grapple with them. When affairs get into a real tangle." Mike said. anyhow. it's all over now." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair.

Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it." Bob agreed. Very sporting of your brother and all that. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. now it's up. "I suppose you can't very well. like the man in the oak-tree. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. It would not be in the picture. I don't know if it's occurred to you. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. "Still. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. what you say doesn't help us out much. and took the line of least resistance. confessed to the same to solve the problem. Imitate this man. after Mike's fashion. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way." . Bob should have done so. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. if they are to be done at school. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. though. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. but why should you do anything? You're all right. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. seeing that the point is. in council. And Burgess." "I do. It's not your fault. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. and here you _are_.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum." said Bob. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. at the moment. It's me. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. I could easily fake up some excuse. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. These things. of course. Besides. in it. You simply keep on saying you're all right." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. Tell you what. have to be carried through stealthily. if possible. "But I must do something. consulted on the point. might find some way of making things right for everybody. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. At which period he remarked a rum business. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. Though.

but a slack field wants skinning. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. If you really want to know. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. "Thanks. I feel like--I don't know what. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. so out he went. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. whatever happens. As the distance between them lessened.." "I don't care. if that's any good to you. So you see how it is. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. He's a young slacker. all right. with a brilliant display of front teeth. that's why you've got your first instead of him. thanks for reminding me. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. Not that you did. At any rate. expansive grin. Wyatt. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. You sweated away. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "I'll tell you what you look like. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant ." "He isn't so keen. and then the top of your head'll come off." "Mind the step." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. So long." said Bob." "Anyhow. I've got my first. he did tell me. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. A bad field's bad enough. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that." said Neville-Smith." "Well. but supposing you had."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. as the Greek exercise books say." said Burgess. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything." "Oh. if you don't look out. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding.

I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. nor iron bars a cage. You can roll up. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. I shall manage it." "The school is going to the dogs. Make it a bit earlier. Clephane is. and I'll come down. After all. if I did. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. a sudden compunction seized upon . Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. for one. for goodness sake. We shall have rather a rag." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. can't you?" "Delighted. They all funked it. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me." "You _will_ turn up." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. I needn't throw a brick. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. eleven'll do me all right." "But one or two day-boys are coming. I'm going to get the things now. anyhow it's to-night. I get on very well. And Beverley." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough." "Yes. Still." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. You'll see the window of my room." "Said it wasn't good enough. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do." As Wyatt was turning away. I expect." "No. All the servants'll have gone to bed. It'll be the only one lighted have at home in honour of my getting my first. Still." "Good man. Heave a pebble at it. It's just above the porch. which I have--well." "So will the glass--with a run. if you like." "The race is degenerating. I'll try to do as little damage as possible.

that's all right. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. I've got to climb two garden walls." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. Rather tricky work. but he did not state his view of the case. I don't know if he keeps a dog. do you? I mean." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. "I say. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. APPLEBY "You may not know it. I've used all mine." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. If so. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me." "Oh. you always are breaking out at night. though. "Don't you worry about me." "Don't go getting caught." said Wyatt. merriest day of all the glad New Year. we must make the best of things. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. Still. and the wall by the . and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. "but this is the maddest. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. No expense has been spared. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. "What's up?" he asked. getting back. He called him back. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row." "I shall do my little best not to be. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. They've no thought for people's convenience here. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. Ginger-beer will flow like water.Neville-Smith. you don't think it's too risky." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night.

and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. "What a night!" he said to himself. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. They were all dark. whatever you did to it. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. dusted his trousers. Then he decided on the latter. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. true. and was in the lane within a minute. He was fond of his garden. sniffing as he walked. Crossing this. he climbed another wall. Appleby. The window of his study was open. From here he could see the long garden. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. which had suffered on the two walls. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. ran lightly across it. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks.potting-shed was a feline club-house. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. Wain's. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. It was a glorious July night. the master who had the house next to Mr. for instance. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. Much better have flowers. There he paused. Why not. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. and get a decent show for one's money in . and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. He was in plenty of time. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. At present there remained much to be done. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. Appleby. and let himself out of the back door. There was a full moon. it is true. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. This was the route which he took to-night. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. but the room had got hot and stuffy.

and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. He paused. Mr. he had recognised him. close his eyes or look the other way. and remember that he is in a position of trust. He went his way openly. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. was a different thing altogether. the extent of the damage done. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also.summer at any rate. He knew that there were times when a master might. he would have done so. liked and respected by boys and masters. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. through the headmaster. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. treat it as if it had never happened. wondering how he should act. on hands and knees. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. but he may use his discretion. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. and rose to his feet. of course. It was not an easy question. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. Appleby. The surprise. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. to the parents. . In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. bade him forget the episode. however. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. and indirectly. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. Appleby had left his chair. Appleby that first awoke to action. As far as he could see. Sentiment. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. without blame. examining. and. with the aid of the moonlight. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. Appleby. With a sigh of relief Mr. It was on another plane. As he dropped into the lane. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. Breaking out at night. He receives a salary for doing this duty. it was not serious. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. He always played the game.

and squeezed through into the room. The thing still rankled. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Mr." Mr." And. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Appleby. if you don't mind." began Mr. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. He tapped on the window." "Sorry. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. Exceedingly so. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. I'm afraid. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. greatly to Mr. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. "Can I have a word with you. in the middle of which stood Mr. Appleby. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. but they would have to wait. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. shall I? No need to unlock the door. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. I'll climb in through here. . Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. like a sea-beast among rocks. He could not let the matter rest where it was. only it's something important. Mr. and walked round to Wain's.This was the conclusion to which Mr. Mr. The blind shot up. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly." said Mr. "I'll smoke. Wain. Wain. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. He turned down his lamp. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. About Wyatt. Wain?" he said.

" "Bars can be removed. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. Appleby offered no suggestion. "Let's leave it at that. Why. Exceedingly so. then. Yes. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster." said Mr." "Possibly. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. this is most extraordinary. sit down. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled." "So was I. You are quite right. "A good deal." "No."James! In your garden! Impossible. I am astonished. You can deal with the thing directly. You're the parent." "He's not there now. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. Tackle the boy when he comes in. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. Dear me. It isn't like an ordinary case. Sorry to have disturbed you." "Good-night." "I don't see why. He had taken the only possible course. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. Appleby. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here." said Mr. Good-night." "You must have been mistaken. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. "What shall I do?" Mr. He was wondering what would happen. Appleby. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." Mr. Appleby." Mr. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. That is a very good idea of yours. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. That is certainly the course I should pursue. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. and have it out with him." "There is certainly something in what you say. He hoped . He would have no choice. and. If you come to think of it. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. It's like daylight out of doors. a little nettled. You are not going?" "Must." "You astound me." "I will. Wain on reflection." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Appleby.

This breaking-out. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. He took a candle. he would hardly have returned yet. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. and nothing else. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. He liked Wyatt. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. He blew the candle out.. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. as a complete nuisance. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. was the last straw. It would be a thousand pities. broken by various small encounters. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. by silent but mutual agreement. Mr. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. the life of an assistant master at a public school. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. a sorrowful. The moon shone in through the empty space.. if he were to be expelled. . He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily.. and then consider the episode closed. one of the bars was missing from the window. it was true. Mike was there. thinking. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed.. If he had gone out. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. and the night was warm. and waited there in the semi-darkness. and walked quietly upstairs. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. he reflected wrathfully. he felt. The light of the candle fell on both beds. He had been working hard. Mr. asleep. He grunted. Appleby had been right. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible.they would not. least of all in those many years younger than himself.. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. If further proof had been needed. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. Mr. It was not all roses. pondering over the news he had heard. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this.. so much as an exasperated. But the other bed was empty. therefore. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. Wyatt he had regarded. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. It was not. Lately.

returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. Mike saw him start. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. and that immediately. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. Mr. but could hear nothing.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. "Hullo!" said Mike. as the house-master shifted his position. At that moment Mr. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Then he seemed to recover himself. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. Jackson. is that you. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. father!" he said pleasantly. and rubbed his hands together. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. But he should leave. . He lay down again without a word. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Wyatt should not be expelled. Wain. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. immediately. Wain relit his candle. "Hullo. and the letter should go by the first post next day. "James!" said Mr. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened." snapped the house-master. The time had come to put an end to it. There was literally no way out. "Go to sleep. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Wyatt dusted his knees. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. His voice sounded ominously hollow.

To Mike. speaking with difficulty." He left the room. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. "That reminds me. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot." "What'll he do. "I shall talk to you in my study. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. I shall be sorry to part with you. it seemed a long silence. Wyatt!" said Mike.' We . my little Hyacinth. now. He flung himself down on his bed. sir. Speaking at a venture. lying in bed." "I got a bit of a start myself. do you think?" "Ah. Wain spoke. rolling with laughter. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Follow me there. I suppose. I say. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. sir. "Yes. "But. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. About an hour. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds." "Yes. it's awful. "You have been out. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. Then Mr. Suppose I'd better go down. Exceedingly astonished. "I say. holding his breath." said Wyatt. "I am astonished." said Wyatt.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. "It's all right. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. Mike began to get alarmed. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. I say. Me sweating to get in quietly. what!" "But. The swift and sudden boot." said Wyatt at last. really." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck.

and began to tap the table. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. "It slipped. James. out of the house. This is my Moscow. sir. may I inquire." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. "Sit down. "Only my slipper. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. Wyatt sat down. choking sob. Well. "Well." "And. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. Mr. sir. at that hour?" "I went for a walk." "Not likely. "Well?" "I haven't one." "What?" "Yes." * * * * * In the study Mr." explained Wyatt. then.shall meet at Philippi." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. I follow. That'll be me. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. Where are me slippers? Ha." Mr." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. 'tis well! Lead on. James?" Wyatt said nothing. Don't go to sleep. Wain jumped nervously. sir." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. "Exceedingly." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back." he said. Wain took up a pen. minions. I suppose I'd better go down. sir.

"I wish you wouldn't do that. they only gain an extra fortnight of me." "Of course. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. "It is expulsion. You will not go to school to-morrow. Wyatt." said Wyatt laconically. James. even were I disposed to do so. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. ignoring the interruption. exceedingly. James. I mean. At once. It's sending me to sleep. "I am sorry. but this is a far more serious matter. "As you know. You must leave the school. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. Only it _was_ sending me off. It is impossible for me to overlook it. Tap like that. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. watching it. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. Exceedingly so. sir. and resumed the thread of his discourse. Wain suspended tapping operations.motor-car. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. Do you understand? That is all. father. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. Wain." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. to see this attitude in you." "I need hardly say. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. ." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker." Mr. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. In a minute or two he would be asleep." Wyatt nodded. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. approvingly." continued Mr." said Wyatt. It is not fitting.

By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. "Buck up." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon."No. here you are. . father. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. He isn't coming to school again. yes. as an actual spectator of the drama. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. "What happened?" "We chatted." Burgess's first thought." Mike was miserably silent. "Anybody seen young--oh. or some rot. all amongst the ink and ledgers." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly." said Wyatt cheerfully. I shoot off almost immediately. was in great request as an informant." he said. but it failed to comfort him. "Oh. was for his team. Mike. Burgess came up. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. Wain were public property. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. as befitted a good cricket captain." "What? When?" "He's left already. he's got to leave. and began to undress.

You'll play on Saturday. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. you see. one exception to the general rule. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. Hope he does. Look here. Mike!" said Bob. Wyatt was his best friend. They met in the cloisters. "What rot for him!" "Beastly." "All right." "He'll find it rather a change." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. anyway. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. You know. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. withdrawn. however. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. "All the same. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. "Hullo." said Mike. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. young Jackson. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. his pal. There was." continued Burgess. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. last night after Neville-Smith's. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. and he's taken him away from the school. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. Not unless he comes to the dorm. "I say. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. though!" he added after a pause. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. that's the part he bars most." agreed Mike. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. As a matter of fact. Bob was the next to interview him. during the night. without enthusiasm. I expect. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms." "I should like to say good-bye.

It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. "It was absolutely my fault. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. by the way. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. They walked on without further Wain's gate. "If it hadn't been for me." ." "Oh. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven." said Mike. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. way. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. where Mike left him. Well. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. "Nothing much. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. "It was all my fault. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished." he said at length. In extra on Saturday. "I say. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. "What's up?" asked Bob.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. Only our first. Bob. plunged in meditation. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. "Only that. Jackson. I don't know. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it." said Burgess. as far as I can see. this wouldn't have happened. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon." "Neville-Smith! Why. That's all. with a forced and grisly calm. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault.

a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. he had a partner. glad to be there again. for lack of anything better to say." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. I'll write to father to-night. did he?" Mike." "By Jove. Stronger than the one we drew with. that's to say. and once. "Very. to start with. So Mr. he'd jump at anything. Jolly hot team of M. three years ago. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine." "Oh. . who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. As a matter of fact. Like Mr. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. too. presumably on business." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. Wain's dressing-room. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. well. Mike was just putting on his pads. as most other boys of his age would have been. Mike. I should think.C. It's about Wyatt. Bob went on his way to the nets. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. I've thought of something. or was being. I may hold a catch for a change. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. And he can ride. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. the Argentine Republic. who believed in taking no chances.C." Burgess grunted.C. If it comes off. They whacked the M. from all accounts. his father had gone over there for a visit. He never chucked the show altogether. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Spenlow. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there." said Bob. He must be able to work it. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. made. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. you never know what's going to happen at cricket."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. "I wanted to see you." "By Jove. "I say. He's a jolly good shot.C. All these things seemed to show that Mr. I know. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt.

Wyatt?" "Yes. sir. sir. sir." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match." "H'm ." "Everything?" "Yes. Sportsman?" "Yes." "Play football?" "Yes." "H'm . He said that he hoped something could be managed. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. sir. there was no reason why something should not be done for him." After which a Mr. These letters he would then stamp. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager.. Well. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. which had run as follows: "Mr.. sir. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. but to the point. Racquets?" "Yes. Jackson's letter was short. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. In any case he would buy him a lunch.. sir. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. Wyatt's letter was longer. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast.. you won't get any more of it now. but that. by a Beginner.." "Cricketer?" "Yes. and subsequently take in bundles to the ." "H'm .. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. Mr. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability.

When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. 'Hints for Young Criminals. It was a day on which to win the toss. and go in first. "Just what I was thinking. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. It would just suit him. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. Honours were heaped upon him." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. match. Spence. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady office. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. if I were you.' So long. There were twelve colours given three years ago. Burgess. as a member of the staff. Burgess. To do only averagely well." Mr. if it got the school out of a tight place. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. if the sun comes out.C." said Mr. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career.' which is a sort of start. At eleven-thirty. The Ripton match was a special event. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. "Who will go on first with you. when the match was timed to begin." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. to be among the ruck. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius." said Burgess. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. "Or even Wyatt. inspecting the wicket with Mr. Mind you make a century. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. "I should cook the accounts. Spence.C. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. by J." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. sir. was not slow to recognise this fact." wrote Wyatt. Burgess?" . Wyatt. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. "I should win the toss to-day. Still. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. But it doesn't seem in my line. would be as useless as not playing at all. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. Even twenty. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. It had stopped late at night. this. I suppose.

Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. He wasn't in the team last year. of the Bosanquet type. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. He's a pretty useful chap all round. I must tell the fellows to look out for it." "I must win the toss. well. They had been at the same private school. He was crocked when they came here."Who do you think. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. though. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. And." said Maclaine. The other's yours. the Ripton captain." "Oh." said Burgess." "You'll put us in. that's a . win the toss. above all." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. it might have been all right." "Well. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it." "I know the chap." "Tails it is." "I should. Mac. I've lost the toss five times running." said Burgess ruefully. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. "We'll go in first. "Certainly." "Heads. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. You call. were old acquaintances. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. so I was bound to win to-day. Looks as if it were going away." "I don't think a lot of that. A boy called de Freece." said Burgess. I believe. This end. "One consolation is. "It's a nuisance too. I don't know of him. Plays racquets for them too. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. On a dry. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. Ellerby. "but I think we'll toss. about our batting. It's a hobby of mine. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. and comes in instead. I think.

but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. The pitch had begun to play tricks. but it means that wickets will fall. and was certain to get worse. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. At sixty Ellerby. They meant to force the game. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. So Ripton went in to hit. The change worked. The sun. Twenty came in ten minutes. gave place to Grant. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. as he would want the field paved with it. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. Another hour of play remained before lunch. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. Buck up and send some one in. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. as it did on this occasion. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. but the score. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Dashing tactics were laid aside. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. and let's get at you. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. he was compelled to tread cautiously. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. but which did not always break. They plodded on.comfort. as it generally does. and Bob. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. Burgess began to look happier. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. which was now shining brightly. Then . who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. held it. Maclaine. seventy-four for three wickets. The score mounted rapidly. Burgess. as also happened now. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. run out. The policy proved successful for a time.

as they walked . CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. when the wicket is bad. The other batsman played out the over. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. He bowled a straight. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. he explained to Mike. So far it was anybody's game. His record score. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. but he had also a very accurate eye. a semicircular stroke. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. and with it the luncheon interval. the ten minutes before lunch. it was not a yorker. Every run was invaluable now. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. it was not straight. medium-paced yorker. He had made twenty-eight. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. That period which is always so dangerous. and de Freece. they resent it. And when he bowled a straight ball. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. the slow bowler. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. when a quarter to two arrived. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. swiping at it with a bright smile. Just a ball or two to the last man. and his one hit. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. A four and a three to de Freece. found his leg-stump knocked back. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. The last man had just gone to the wickets. missed his second. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. did what Burgess had failed to do. when Ellerby. for the last ten minutes.Ellerby. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. who had gone on again instead of Grant. came off with distressing frequency. and it will be their turn to bat.

-b. and make for the pavilion. and not your legs." "Hear that. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. Berry? He doesn't always break. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative." he said." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. when done. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings." said Burgess helpfully. On a bad wicket--well. For goodness sake. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. . "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. "Thought the thing was going to break. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. But Berridge survived the ordeal. "Morris is out. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. It would have been a gentle canter for them." said Burgess blankly. he the pavilion. Berridge. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. Morris was the tenth case. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. He breaks like sin all over the shop. Berry." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. if he doesn't look out. would be anything record-breaking. but it didn't. "It's that googly man.-w. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. rather than confidence that their best. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. You must look out for that. "That chap'll have Berry.-b. First ball. hard condition. The tragedy started with the very first ball. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. "L. for this or any ground.-w. He thought it was all right. A grim determination to do their best. stick a bat in the way. But ordinary standards would not apply here. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. Hullo.

Last man duck. he was smartly at thirty. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. He started to play forward. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries." . and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. he isn't. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. Ten for two was not good. "This is all right. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. The voice of the scorer. Mike nodded. By George. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. He got up. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. broke it. Bob's out!.This brought Marsh to the batting end. Ellerby took off his pads. jumping out to drive. but this the next ball. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. Mike was silent and thoughtful. "One for two. we might have a chance. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. He was in after Bob. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions." said Ellerby. "The only thing is. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. The last of the over had him in two minds. stumped. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. The wicket'll get better. but it was considerably better than one for two. With the score Freece. He had then. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's.. No.." he said." Ellerby echoed the remark. "It's getting trickier every minute. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. Bob was the next man in. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. The cloud began to settle again. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. He sent them down medium-pace. and the second tragedy occurred. if we can only stay in. and scoring a couple of twos off it. and took off his blazer. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple.

"I shall go in next myself and swipe. A howl of delight went up from the school. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. 12." "All right. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school." said Ellerby. He came to where Mike was sitting. The wicket-keeper. and had nearly met the same fate. which was repeated. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass." said Mike...C. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. Oh. as Ellerby had done. had fumbled the ball. Mike. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. 5. Berridge was out by a yard. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. _fortissimo_. Jackson. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. the batsmen crossed." "Bob's broken his egg. He was cool. on the board.. When he had gone out to bat against the M." said Mike." said Ellerby.C. But now his feelings were different. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite." said Ellerby. you silly ass. and try and knock that man de Freece off. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. however. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. 54. "Forty-one for four. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. If only somebody would knock him off his length. "Good man." he said. when. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. more by accident than by accurate timing." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. as if it were some one else's. . "I'm going to shove you down one. There was no sense of individuality. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. Every little helps. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. "That's the way I was had. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. The melancholy youth put up the figures. I believe we might win yet.

apparently. They had been well pitched up. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling.-b. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. to do with actual health. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. The umpire shook his head. and stepped back. Mike had faced half-left. And Mike took after Joe. and he had smothered them. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. that he was at the top of his batting form. But something seemed to whisper to him. a comfortable three. Joe would be in his element. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. in school matches.-w. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. Mike jumped out. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. Bob played out the over with elaborate care.Fitness. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. De Freece said nothing. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. He felt that he knew where he was now. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. The next ball was of the same length. It pitched slightly to leg. Indeed. or very little. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. as he settled himself to face the bowler. He knew what to do now. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. The ball hit his right pad. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. but this time off the off-stump. and whipped in quickly. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. . It has nothing. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. finer players. and not short enough to take liberties with. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. considering his pace. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. and hit it before it had time to break.

in the pavilion. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. and so. thence to ninety. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. To-day he never looked like settling down. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. He survived an over from de Freece. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. Practically they had only one. In the present case. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. Apparently. the next man in. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. was a promising rather than an effective bat. mainly by singles. For himself he had no fear now. but he was full of that conviction. nor Grant. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. a half-volley to leg. At a hundred and four. Mike could see him licking his lips.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. He had an excellent style. for neither Ashe. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. but he was uncertain. It was a long-hop on the off. "Don't say that. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. There was nervousness written all over him. Henfrey. "Sixty up." "You ass. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. But Mike did not get out. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. the score mounted to eighty. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. . that this was his day. The last ball of the over." said Ellerby. His departure upset the scheme of things. He had made twenty-six. and made twenty-one. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. He might possibly get out off his next ball. (Two years later. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. and the wicket was getting easier." said Berridge.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. or he's certain to get out." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. he lifted over the other boundary. to a hundred. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. And. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. however. he made a lot of runs. and de Freece's pet googly. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again.

Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. announced that he had reached his fifty. The last ball of the over he mishit. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. But he did not score. But it was going to be done. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. he stopped it. it all but got through Mike's defence. A distant clapping from the pavilion.. "collar the bowling all you know. Jackson. The fast bowler." said Mike. was well-meaning but erratic. I shall get outed first ball. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. or we're done. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. "Over. but even so. Mike took them. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. taken up a moment later all round the ground. But each time luck was with him. but this happened now. "Come on.. . and it was possible to take liberties. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty." he whispered. Forty to win! A large order. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. "For goodness sake. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. Could he go up to him and explain that he..He was not kept long in suspense." "All right. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. and a school prefect to boot. and for the first five balls he could not find his length." shouted Grant. It rolled in the direction of third man. and set his teeth. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. The wicket was almost true again now. The next over was doubly sensational. As it was. and he would have been run out. Another fraction of a second. But the sixth was of a different kind. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves." said the umpire. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man.

and touched the off-stump. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . meeting Burgess in the pavilion. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. Point and the slips crowded round. * * * * * "Good game." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. A great stillness was over all the ground. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. The fifth curled round his bat. Mike had got the bowling. I say. by the way?" "Eighty-three." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. and the bowling was not de Freece's. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. Mike's knees trembled." said Maclaine." continued he. but determined. He bowled rippingly. and rolled back down the pitch. It was an awe-inspiring moment. The school broke into one great howl of joy." said Maclaine. There were still seven runs between them and victory. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. rough luck on de Freece. For four balls he baffled the attack. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. A bail fell silently to the ground. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. Grant looked embarrassed. It was young Jackson. Brother of the other one." "The funny part of it is. The next moment the crisis was past.

"Sorry I'm late. The Jacksons were breakfasting. interested. He's been wounded in a duel. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. conversationally. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. including Gladys Maud. Mrs." said Marjory. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder." . Mr. Mike read on. bush-ray." added Phyllis. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. "Bush-ray. Jackson) had resulted. Mike. had settled down to serious work." said Ella." began Gladys Maud. through the bread-and-milk. "Is there?" said Mike. Jackson. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper.It was a morning in the middle of September. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. "He gives no details. Mike's place was still empty. bush-ray." explained Gladys Maud. "Bushrangers. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." "I wish Mike would come and open it. who had duly secured the stakes. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. referred to in a previous chapter. Jackson was reading letters. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. The hour being nine-fifteen." she shouted." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory." said Mr. "There's a letter from Wyatt. in a victory for Marjory. but expects to be fit again shortly. "Bush-ray. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man." said Phyllis." He opened the letter and began to read. "Buck up." "With a bushranger. but was headed off. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. The rest. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock.

when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. It happened like this. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off.. So this rotter. and coming back. so he came to us and told us what had happened. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder." said Marjory. "Anyhow.. He fired as we came up. pulled out our revolvers. it was practically a bushranger. Jackson. and loosed off. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. and that's when the trouble began. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. which had fallen just by where I came down. "Much better than being in a beastly bank.. a good chap who can't help being ugly. and missed him clean every time. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. Missed the first shot. summing up. and his day's work was done. I say. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight.. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. and so it was. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. That's the painful story. A chap called Chester. Jackson. Well. I thought he was killed at first. which has crocked me for the time being. "No. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. but it turned out it was only his leg. Only potted him in the leg. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. This is what he says. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. and dropped poor old Chester. Hurt like sin afterwards. I got going then. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. and it was any money on the Gaucho. "I told you it was a duel. and I were dipping sheep close by. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. an Old Wykehamist. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. he wanted to ride through our place. and tooled after him. proceeded to cut the fence.'" "By Jove!" said Mike.." said Phyllis. Chester was unconscious.. and go through that way. Here you are. instead of shifting off." said Mike. I picked it up. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. We nipped on to a couple of horses. so I shall have to stop. After a bit we overtook him. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. so excuse bad writing. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived.

Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. fetching and carrying for Mike. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. and did the thing thoroughly. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end." . "Your report came this morning. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. that's a comfort." "Have you? Thanks awfully." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." Marjory was bustling about. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. even for Joe. though for the others.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. He looked up interested." "No. She had adopted him at an early age. Blake used to write when you were in his form. Jackson had disappeared." said Mike philosophically. It's the first I've had from Appleby. She was fond of her other brothers. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. "I'm a bit late. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. Mike. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. But he was late. she would do it only as a favour. Mike." she said. jumping up as he entered." Mike seemed concerned. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. "I say." said Marjory." "He didn't mean it really. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame." she said. while Marjory. the meal was nearly over. as Mr. as she always did. "Hullo. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. Father didn't say anything. but Mike was her favourite. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. When he came down on this particular morning." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. Mr. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. looked on in a detached sort of way. as usual. taking his correspondence with him. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. Mrs.

C. Saunders. and now he had the strength as well. She was kept busy." he said. on the arrival of Mr." was his muttered exclamation. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Mr. "you'll make a century every match next term. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. He liked the prospect. father wants you. Let's go and see. but already he was beginning to find his form. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. He had always had the style. It was early in the Easter holidays.C. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. At night sometimes he would lie awake. "Oh. however." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. As he was walking towards the house. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. Why." "I wish I wasn't. indeed. From time to time. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. "You _are_. Everybody says you are. who treated his sons as companions. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M." Henfrey. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. Phyllis met him. I've been hunting for you. He had filled out in three years. Master Mike. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. By the way. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report."What ho!" interpolated Mike. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. "in a beastly wax. minor match type. it's a beastly responsibility. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . was not returning next term. and Mike was to reign in his stead. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. was delighted. appalled by the fear of losing his form." "What for?" "I don't know." "Where?" "He's in the study." Mike's jaw fell slightly. He seems--" added Phyllis. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. Mike. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility.

" Mike. and Mr. very poor. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump." "Oh. but on several occasions.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. Jackson in measured tones. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. that Jackson entered the study. skilled in omens. "I want to speak to you. both in and out of school. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. he paused." said his father. what is more. Inattentive and idle. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French.'" quoted Mr. there had been something not unlike a typhoon." "Here are Mr. Jackson. "Come in. therefore. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. "I want you to listen to this report. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. kicking the waste-paper basket. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor." "Oh. It was on this occasion that Mr. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. There followed an awkward silence. Jackson was a man of his word.previous term. Jackson.'" "Nobody does much work in Math." said Mr. scented a row in the offing. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. "your report. . Mike.'" "We were doing Thucydides. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering." "'Mathematics bad. not once. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. father?" said Mike." replied Mr. "It is. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now.'" "It wasn't anything really. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. with a sort of sickly interest. "'His conduct. Greek." "'Latin poor. "'French bad. is that my report. Book Two.

" Mike's heart thumped. when he made up his mind. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. a silent. Mr. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. birds were twittering. and Mr. Mike said nothing. Jackson was sorry for Mike. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be." was his next remark. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. spectacled youth who did not enter ." Barlitt was the vicar's son. Mike?" said Mr. but it has one merit--boys work there."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. perhaps. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot." he said." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining.' There is more to the same effect. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. Jackson. He understood cricket." he said blankly. "It is not a large school. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. and there was an end of it. The tragedy had happened. He did not approve of it. or their Eight to Bisley. pure and simple. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. and for that reason he said very little now. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. He knew it would be useless. but still blithely). As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike." Mr. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. He understood him. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Mike's point of view was plain to him. his father. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. "I shall abide by what I said. Mr.

I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. "Young gents at the school. It's waiting here. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties." "Worse luck. Mike said nothing. but not much conversation had ensued. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train.very largely into Mike's world. and said. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. Barlitt's mind was massive. so far from attempting to make the best of things. for instance. opened the door." "Right. and Mike. George!" "I'll walk. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. He walked off up the road. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. Then he got out himself and looked about him. pulled up again. It's straight on up this road to the school. "So you're back from Moscow. sir. "It's a goodish step. Jackson. seeing the name of the station. You can't miss it. sorrier for himself than ever. Mike nodded. A sombre nod. thanks. "For the school. sir. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. and the man who took his ticket. sir. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. sir. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's." said Mike." "Thank you. It was such . The future seemed wholly gloomy. He thought. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. He hated the station. "Mr. sir." added Mr. got up. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh." said the porter. bustling up." "Here you are. And. and the colour of his hair. Also the boots he wore. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. sir. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. Hi. He disliked his voice. his appearance. sir." said Mike frigidly. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner.

He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. He inquired for Mr. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. from the top of a hill. at that." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Outwood. Now it might never be used. But it was not the same thing. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. Which was the bitter part of it.absolutely rotten luck. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. who would be captain in his place. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. free bat on his day. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. on top of all this. "Jackson?" he said mildly. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. There were three houses in a row. Presently the door opened. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan." . And now. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. This must be Sedleigh. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. He had never been in command. and the house-master appeared. Once he crossed a river. going in first. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. now that he was no longer there. too. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. might make a century in an hour. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Enderby. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. About now. Strachan was a good. would be weak this year. and had lost both the Ripton matches. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. but he was not to be depended upon. Outwood's. but almost as good. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. Outwood. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. And as captain of cricket. and knocked. Burgess. sir. Outwood's was the middle one of these. if he survived a few overs. Mike went to the front door. The football fifteen had been hopeless. "Yes. Wrykyn. It was soon after this that he caught sight. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. the return by over sixty points. and. and was shown into a room lined with books.

" he added pensively. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. What's yours?" . "Hullo. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. "Hullo. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. very glad indeed." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house." said Mike. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. sir?" "What? Yes. said he had not. yes. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. with chamfered plinth. and fixed it in his right eye. Jackson. In many respects it is unique. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. You will find the matron in her room. then. A very long. his gloom visibly deepened. that's to say. Jackson. I think you might like a cup of tea. He spoke in a tired voice. All alone in a strange school. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. He strayed about. Personally. in Shropshire. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. Good-bye for the present. was leaning against the mantelpiece. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. good-bye. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. I understand. thin youth. finding his bearings. A Nursery Garden in the Home. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. standing quite free from the apse wall. Oh. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit." said the immaculate one. Jackson. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Quite so. It was a little hard. You come from Crofton. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey." he said. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. That sort of idea. It will well repay a visit. Bishop Geoffrey. Ambrose. Quite so. As Mike entered. "is Smith. where they probably played hopscotch. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. But this room was occupied. he spoke."I am very glad to see you. "Take a seat. My name. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St.

" "Bad luck. I was superannuated last term. then?" "Yes! Why. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. When I was but a babe. "it was not to be. "Are you the Bully. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way." said Mike. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't)." he resumed. or simply Smith." "But why Sedleigh.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson." said Psmith solemnly. before I start. At an early age. the name Zbysco. there's just one thing. so I don't know. By the way. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. "No. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. for choice. But. . Sit down on yonder settee. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h." "No?" said Mike. See? There are too many Smiths. and see that I did not raise Cain." "For Eton. "but I've only just arrived. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. the P not being sounded. "My infancy. If you ever have occasion to write to me. everybody predicting a bright career for me. I was sent to Eton. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. the Pride of the School. "Let us start at the beginning. too. Cp. I shall found a new dynasty. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. We now pass to my boyhood. Sedleigh gains. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. and got it. and I don't care for Smythe. yes." said Mike. See?" Mike said he saw. But what Eton loses. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here.

It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. To get off cricket. The son of the vicar. who told my father." ." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. Sheep that have gone astray. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. There's an Archaeological Society in the school." "And thereby. but a bit too thick for me. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. Lost lambs. Comrade Jackson. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. Divided. It goes out on half-holidays. Cheer a little. There's a libel action in every sentence. dusting his right trouser-leg. who told our curate. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. We are practically long-lost brothers. Jawed about apses and things. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. You work for the equal distribution of property." "Wrykyn. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. and so on. It's a great scheme."That was the man. A noble game. laddie. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. together we may worry through. run by him. "You have heard my painful story. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. Bit off his nut. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. "hangs a tale." said Psmith. We must stick together. And. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. You ought to be one." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. we fall. mark you. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday." "I am with you. We are companions in misfortune. who told our vicar. will you? I've just become a Socialist. He could almost have embraced Psmith. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. Outwood. prowling about. The vicar told the curate." said Psmith. Now tell me yours. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith.

" ." "Good idea. Psmith approved the resolve. "is the exact programme. A chap at Wrykyn. "Might have been made for us. We shall thus improve our minds. called Wyatt. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. Psmith opened the first of these." "Not now. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter." "Then let's beat up a study. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. Above all. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown." he said. This is practical Socialism." he said. "We will. was one way of treating the situation. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. and a looking-glass." They went upstairs." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. It was a biggish room. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview." said Psmith approvingly. There were a couple of deal tables. We must stake out our claims." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That."I'm not going to play here. and straightening his tie. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror." said Mike. we will go out of bounds. I suppose they have studies here. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. We will snare the elusive fossil together. and get our names shoved down for the Society. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. hung on a nail." said Psmith. and one not without its meed of comfort. at any rate. "Stout fellow. and have a jolly good time as well." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere." "It would take a lot to make me do that." said Mike. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. You and I. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. looking out over the school grounds. Let's go and look. as it were. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. hand in hand. and do a bit on our own account. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. "This'll do us well. two empty bookcases. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. "'Tis well.

and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks." said Psmith sympathetically. was rather a critic than an executant. "Privacy. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. That putrid calendar must come down. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. though the idea was Psmith's. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable." A heavy body had plunged against the door. I wonder. "You couldn't make a long arm. It's got an Etna and various things in it. Similarly. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports."His misfortune. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. "are the very dickens. "The weed. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. though. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. And now. Hullo. as he watched Mike light the Etna." "These school reports." . I had several bright things to say on the subject. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. There are moments when one wants to be alone. sits down. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. We make progress. not ours." said Psmith. Do you think you could make a long arm. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. and begins to talk about himself. He was full of ideas. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. A rattling at the handle followed." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith." said Mike." said Psmith. What's this. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. We make progress. the first thing you know is. and a voice outside said. if you want to be really useful. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. could you. somebody comes right in." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day.

"to restore our tissues after our journey. freckled boy. and screamed. put up his eyeglass. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. practical order. Edwin!' And so. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. We keep open house." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. and this is my study. it's beastly cheek. "In this life. we must be prepared for every emergency. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). 'Edwin." said he." "My name's Spiller." said Psmith. and cheered himself with a sip of tea." inquired the newcomer. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. "you stayed on till the later train." "But we do. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. 'Don't go. Your father held your hand and said huskily. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. Homely in appearance." Psmith went to the table. But no. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. "It's beastly cheek. you find strange faces in the familiar room. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. on arrival. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. perhaps. Come in and join us. "It's beastly cheek." said Psmith." said Psmith. Comrade Spiller. Spiller evaded the question. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. 'Edwin. "What the dickens. we Psmiths. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train.' Too late! That is the bitter cry.Mike unlocked the door. and said. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. and flung it open. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. I am Psmith. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. He went straight to the root of the matter. deeply affected by his recital. but one of us." said Psmith. and. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. that's what I call it." he repeated. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. "Well. It is unusual for people to go about the place . all might have been well. a people that know not Spiller. A stout fellow. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours.

'Now we'll let her rip. As it is." "But what steps." "We'll see what Outwood says about it." he said." said Psmith. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. so. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. He cannot cope with the situation. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. of course. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower.' he said. He hummed lightly as he walked. It was Simpson's last term. "Ah. "And Smith. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. One's the foot-brake. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. and we stopped dead. Psmith particularly debonair. "are you going to take? Spiller. "All I know is. and Simpson's left. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. Spiller pink and determined. We may as well all go together. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. 'I couldn't. By no means a scaly project.' So he stamped on the accelerator." Mr.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. it's my study. let this be a lesson to you. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. and Jackson. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. . and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. the man of Logic. Spiller. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. I'm going to have it. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside." said Psmith." The trio made their way to the Presence. The thing comes on you as a surprise. Spiller.bagging studies. Spiller. Mike sullen." "Spiller's. Error! Ah. Mr." "Not an unsound scheme. and the other's the accelerator. you are unprepared." "Look here. and I'm next on the house list. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression.' Take the present case. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. 'I wouldn't. and skidded into a ditch. sir. But what of Spiller. we know.

Spiller. Smith. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. sir--" began Spiller." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. "I understand." said Psmith." "Oh. too!" Mr. Smith. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another."Er--quite so. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. Cricket and football. sir. His colleague. We have a small Archaeological Society. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." he said at last. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. very pleased indeed." "Ah. "I am delighted. Do you want to join. though small. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. sir. I--er--in a measure look after it. This enthusiasm is most capital. sir--" said Spiller. sir--" said Spiller. if you were not too busy. Smith. Mr. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times." "Please." "And Jackson's. Downing. he is one of our oldest members. "that accounts for it." "Please. "One moment." "Spiller." said Psmith sadly. Archaeology fascinates me. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. two miles from the school." he said. Smith. "One moment. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. Is there anything----" "Please. sir." pursued Psmith earnestly. while his own band." "Jackson." "Undoubtedly. "I have been unable to induce to join. Smith?" "Intensely. Most delighted." "Not at all. "Yes. Spiller. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. not at all." "There is no vice in Spiller." said Psmith. were in the main earnest. sir. Boys came readily at his call. I will put down your name at once. This is capital." . appeared to be the main interest in their lives. I am very pleased. A grand pursuit. games that left him cold. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. "Yes. sir. "His heart is the heart of a little child. quite so. tolerantly. never had any difficulty in finding support. sir. sir." Mr. Mr. Outwood beamed.

"We should. sir. Spiller. Quite so. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. sir--" said Spiller. "Please." "Quite so. Outwood." "But. if you could spare the time. "is very. sir. sir." "Yes." shouted Spiller." "Thank you very much. sir. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. Correct it. "One moment. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. sir." "Capital!" "Please. You should have spoken before."We shall be there. as they closed the door. Smith. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith." "All this sort of thing. Smith. very trying for a man of culture. sir. Spiller. "is your besetting fault." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE ." said Psmith." "Thank you very much. A very good idea. Spiller. Edwin. of course. "This tendency to delay. An excellent arrangement." "Certainly." said Mike. Smith. sir. "There is just one other matter. Spiller. I come next after Simpson." he said. sir. We will move our things in. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. Fight against it." said Psmith. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means." "Quite so. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. sir. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house." He turned to Mr.

" "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. the door handle rattled again." said Psmith. but we must rout him out once more. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories." "And jam a chair against it. and we can lock that."There are few pleasures. Here we are in a stronghold." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. face the future for awhile. though." said Psmith courteously. "He thinks of everything! You're the man." he said. and this time there followed a knocking. . Smith. with your permission. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder." "_And_. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis." Mike was finishing his tea. there is nothing he can deny us. as you rightly remark." he said with approval." As they got up. "The difficulty is." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. I mean. he would not have appreciated it properly. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. We are as sons to him. but we can't stay all night. "We ought to have known each other before. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off." "The loss was mine. "We will now. "about when we leave this room. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. I don't like rows. they can only get at us through the door. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. I say. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. we're all right while we stick here." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. jam a chair against it. Comrade Jackson. This place would have been wasted on Spiller.

in his practical way."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." said Psmith. with. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." said Psmith. only it belongs to three ." sighed Psmith." Mike unlocked the door." giggled Jellicoe. say." said Psmith approvingly. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." said Mike. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. then?" asked Mike. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature." "Old Spiller." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. "Let us parley with the man." he explained. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. not more. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. "I just came up to have a look at you. "If you move a little to the left. "He might get about half a dozen." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths." said Psmith. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that." said Psmith. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged." "Sturdy common sense." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful." "How many _will_ there be. for instance. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." "As I suspected.

"is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Better leave the door open. Smith. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone." he said. I like to see it--I like to see it." said Psmith. sir. sir----" "Not at all. "are beginning to move. "That door." "You make friends easily. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. if you would have any objection to Jackson. The handle began to revolve again. I think. as the messenger departed." "We were wondering." "And we can have the room." Mr. Jellicoe and myself. and some other chaps. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. crowding ." he said. Smith?" he said. it will save trouble." said Psmith." This time it was a small boy. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. "We must apologise for disturbing you. "has sprung up between Jackson. Ah. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. Comrade Spiller. Things. Smith. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." "And now. "Yes." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. the others waited outside.chaps. as they returned to the study." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. come in.

with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. Mike jumped to help. instead of resisting. Jellicoe giggled in the background." cried Spiller suddenly. and the handle. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. was just in time to see Psmith. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. Mike. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. "Look here. if you don't. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. Comrade Spiller. "Robinson. For a moment the doorway was blocked. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe." said Spiller. "They'll have it down. "We must act." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. "Who was our guest?" he asked. the first shot has been fired. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly." "You'll get it hot. The dogs of war are now loose. His was a simple and appreciative mind. always. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. swung open. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. the door. I say. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. slammed the door and locked it. the enemy gave back. "A neat piece of work. . This time. the captive was already on the window-sill." A heavy body crashed against the door. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door." said Mike. turning after re-locking the door. and then to stand by for the next attack. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below." said Psmith approvingly. you chaps. however. stepping into the room again." said Jellicoe. As Mike arrived. "Come on. was it? the doorway. but Mike had been watching." "We'll risk it. and Mike. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. but it was needless. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study.

Well. and see what happens. but Psmith was in his element. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door." "This. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. leaning against the mantelpiece. we will play the fixture on our own ground. we would be alone." said Mike. When they had been in the study a few moments." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. "Tea." "They won't do anything till after tea." he said. I shouldn't think." A bell rang in the distance. you know." The passage was empty when they opened the door. of course. It read: "Directly this is over." said Psmith." said Mike. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. "we shall have to go now. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. . "You'd better come out. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. Jellicoe knocked at the door. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. "No." "Leave us. and have it out?" said Mike. they were first out of the room. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. "There's no harm in going out. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time.Somebody hammered on the door." Mike followed the advice. Spiller. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that." said Jellicoe. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. Spiller's face was crimson. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. but it can't go on. "is exciting.

that human encyclopaedia. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. retiring at ten. And now. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy." "Then I think. they rag him." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. As to the time when an attack might be expected. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. Mr." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe." said Psmith placidly. It was probable. closing the door." said Jellicoe. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. and disappeared again. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. We shall be glad of his moral support. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. well-conducted establishment. _ne pas_. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. deposed that Spiller. "only he won't. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. therefore. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. as predicted by Jellicoe. . Shall we be moving?" Mr. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. where Robinson also had a bed. He never hears anything. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. "And touching. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." said Psmith. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house." said Mike. he'll simply sit tight. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous."Quite right. but otherwise. "the matter of noise. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner." said Psmith. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling.

they may wait at the top of the steps. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. but far otherwise. If they have. I have evolved the following plan of action. which is close to the door. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. directly he heard the door-handle turned. . There were three steps leading down to it. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. I always ask myself on these occasions. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. Comrade Jellicoe. too. listening. "Dashed neat!" he said. especially if. and a slight giggle. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. He would then----" "I tell you what." said Psmith. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. "These humane preparations being concluded. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. waiting for him." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. had heard the noise. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. If they have no candle. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. showed that Jellicoe. There was a creaking sound. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. Comrade Jackson. Subject to your approval. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. as on this occasion. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. silence is essential. "we will retire to our posts and wait. Napoleon would have done that. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. too. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. Mike was tired after his journey. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget." said Mike."How about that door?" said Mike.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

we went singing about the house." Mr. I was referring to the principle of the thing. Scarcely had he gone. sir." sighed Psmith. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. Archaeology is a passion with us. I like every new boy to begin at once. A short. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. I tell you I don't like it. But in my opinion it is foolery. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. too. I suppose I can't hinder you. above all." "At any rate. "If you choose to waste your time." said Psmith. to an excitable bullfinch. "Now _he's_ cross." "We are." "A very wild lot." "I never loaf. a keen school.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees." Adair turned. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. sir. The more new blood we have. When we heard that there was a society here. I want every boy to be keen." said Mr. We want keenness here. I fear. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. sir. sir. Comrade Outwood loves us. "Excellent." He stumped off. nothing else. eh?" It was a master. with fervour. Outwood last night. "I saw Adair speaking to you." said Psmith." "On archaeology. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. sir. and walked on. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. both in manner and appearance. the better. not wandering at large about the country. We are. I suppose you will both play." "Good job." said Psmith." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. the Archaeological Society here. "I was not alluding to you in particular. shaking his head. "I don't like it. Let's go on and see what sort . Downing vehemently. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. It gets him into idle. looking after him. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. loafing habits.

An innings for a Kindergarten _v. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. What made it worse was that he saw. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. when the sun shone. was a very good bowler indeed._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. "I _will_ be good. and Milton. The batting was not so good. Mike would have placed above him. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. after . It couldn't be done. by the law of averages. and Wyatt. to begin with. that swash-buckling pair." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. Altogether. was a mild. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. Any sort of a game. There were times. mostly in Downing's house. and Stone was a good slow bowler. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. Stone and Robinson themselves. He was not a Burgess. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. Adair. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. It was on a Thursday afternoon. were both fair batsmen. after watching behind the nets once or twice.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. He did not repeat the experiment. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. in his three years' experience of the school. Numbers do not make good cricket. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. And now he positively ached for a game. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. but there were some quite capable men. the head of Outwood's. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. Barnes. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. Lead me to the nearest net. There were other exponents of the game.

Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. and he patronised ruins. let us slip away. Psmith approached Mike. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. Mike walked away without a word. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. Mr. Mike. "What?" he said. He looked up. but patronising. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. He patronised fossils. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. "This net. He was amiable. Psmith. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. was the first eleven net. He was embarrassed and nervous." he said. as he sat there watching." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. "by the docility of our demeanour. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. from increased embarrassment. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. The day was warm. and was trying not to show it. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. and kept them by his aide. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. for Mr. to be absolutely accurate. give me the pip. Roman camps. could stand it no longer. He went up to Adair. he would have patronised that. "This is the first eleven net. More abruptly this time. This is the real cricket scent. seemed to enjoy them hugely. Mike repeated his request. and brood apart for awhile." "Over there" was the end net. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge." said Adair coldly. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. "Go in after Lodge over there." it may be observed. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. "Having inspired Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. Let us find some shady nook where a .

they always liked him. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. I rather think I'll go to sleep. and closed his eyes. He came back to where the man was standing. Ah. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. At the further end there was a brook. dancing in among my . It's a great grief to a man of refinement. for the Free Foresters last summer." he said. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. "A fatiguing may lie on his back for a bit. Mike liked dogs. unless you have anything important to say. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. "Thus far. hitching up the knees of his trousers. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. "And. and began to explore the wood on the other side. He was a short. on acquaintance. "I was just having a look round." And Psmith. finding this a little dull. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. "I played against you. In the same situation a few years before. In passing. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. We will rest here awhile. Mine are like some furrowed field. Mike sat on for a few minutes. above all. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression." "The dickens you--Why. "and no farther. and they strolled away down the hill. Call me in about an hour. Their departure had passed unnoticed. this looks a likely spot." said Psmith. and began to bark vigorously at him. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. jumped the brook. and listen to the music of the brook. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him." Mike. and sitting down. and trusted to speed to save him. Comrade Jackson. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. Looking back. In fact. lay down. He was too late." said Psmith. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. and. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. I can tell you. broad young man with a fair moustache. Mike would have carried on. offered no opposition. but he could not place him. and then. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. he got up." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth.

how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. you know. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. I'm simply dying for a game. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. I'll tell you how it is. It's just off the London road.nesting pheasants. "Only village. I say. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. you see. "Any Wednesday or Saturday." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground." And he told how matters stood with him." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. "I hang out down here." "Thanks. By the way. By Jove. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front." "That's all right. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. "So. only cover dropped it. Look here. We all start out together." "I'll lend you everything." "I'm frightfully sorry. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away." he concluded. He began to talk about himself. turning to the subject next his heart. * * * * * . You made fifty-eight not out." "I'll play on a rockery. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn." "I'll give you all you want. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. Very keen. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. There's a sign-post where you turn off. but no great shakes. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about." "You ought to have had me second ball. if you want me to. but I could nip back. You're Prendergast." said Mike.

Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team." "My lips are sealed." * * * * * That Saturday. "I'm going to play cricket. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. will you? I don't want it to get about. To Mr. employed doing "over-time. and Mr. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. life can never be entirely grey. to enjoy himself." One of the most acute of these crises. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Downing. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. Jackson."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. never an easy form-master to get on with. It was. Mike began. If you like the game. punctuated at intervals by crises. It was not Wrykyn. To Mike. pompous. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. As time went on. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. Downing. Downing's special care. M. Mr. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. Mr. though he would not have admitted it. indeed. I say. and it grew with further acquaintance. fussy. on being awakened and told the news. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . don't tell a soul. but it was a very decent substitute. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. Downing. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. I think I'll come and watch you. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. and the most important. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. sleepily. Cricket I dislike. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. for a village near here. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week.

Downing had closed the minute-book.esteem of Mr. In passing. with green stripes. Downing's form-room. Sammy was the other. a sort of high priest. Outwood. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. had joined young and worked their way up. At its head was Mr. He was a large. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. sir. The Brigade was carefully organised. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. an engaging expression. or Downing. with a thin green stripe. Downing." Red. sir?" asked Stone. was the Sedleigh colour. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. Sammy. We will now proceed to the painful details. of the School House. who looked on the Brigade in the right. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. spirit. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. Downing. a tenor voice. short for Sampson. of Outwood's house. and a particular friend of Mike's. light-hearted dog with a white coat. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. To show a keenness for cricket was good. under him was a captain. who. Stone and Robinson. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. As soon as Mr. and was apparently made of india-rubber. Wilson. To-day they were in very fair form. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. about thirty in all. Downing pondered "Red. "Shall I put it to the vote. Under them were the rank and file. Wilson?" "Please. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. He had long legs. held up his hand. "Well. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. The rest were entirely frivolous. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. The proceedings always began in the same way." . Stone. sir. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. much in request during French lessons. and under the captain a vice-captain. Downing. These two officials were those sportive allies. the tongue of an ant-eater. "One moment.

Downing rapped irritably on his desk. sir." A scuffling of feet. Stone. sir."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads." . perfectly preposterous. Well. Mr." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. "Sit down!" he said. the danger!" "Please. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. of course. get back to your place. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. listen to me. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question." said Robinson. please. "Silence!" "Then. and the meeting had divided." said Stone. The whole strength of the company: "Please. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive." "Please. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. sir. Mr. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. Stone. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. We cannot plunge into needless expense. out of the question. sir. sir. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. sit down--Wilson. those against it to the right. of course." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. sir-r-r!" "But. "I don't think my people would be pleased. sir. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. Downing banged on his desk. sir. Wilson?" "Please. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet." "Please. sir. sir.

" Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. I'm not making a whining noise." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. Downing. Those near enough to see. as many Wrykynians ." A pained "OO-oo-oo. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth." he said. "Noise. Downing." said Stone helpfully. sir?" asked Mike. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion." he remarked frostily. Downing smiled a wry smile." as he reached the door. "A bird. sir. sir? No. Downing. "I think it's something outside the window. we are busy. "It's outside the door. sir?" said a voice "off. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. no. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr." "What _sort_ of noise. I want you boys above all to be keen. puzzled. We must have keenness. He was not alone. I think." was cut off by the closing door. And. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. "do me one hundred lines. sir!" "This moment. Wilson!" "Yes." said Robinson. sir. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. Mr. there must be less of this flippancy. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. Wilson. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. sir-r-r. leave the room!" "Sir. sir?" asked Mike. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. Jackson. sir?" inquired Mike. sir. "Very well--be quick. "May I fetch a book from my desk. _please_. "Sir. mingled with cries half-suppressed. "Our Wilson is facetious. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. The muffled cries grew more distinct.Mr. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice.

Jackson and Wilson. Henderson." put in Stone. I said. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. Vincent. "Perhaps that's it. sit down! Donovan. and was now standing." said the invisible Wilson. bustling scene. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. What are you doing. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. sir. sir. sir?" bellowed the unseen one." added Robinson." "Yes. among the ruins barking triumphantly. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. all of you. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. like Marius. "to imitate the noise. the same! Go to your seat. Mr. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. remain. "I do not propose." "They are mowing the cricket field." Crash! . "A rat!" shouted Robinson. "They do sometimes. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. Mr." "Or somebody's boots. all shouted. Come in. The banging on Mr. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. if you do not sit down. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. It was a stirring. you can all hear it perfectly plainly." said Mr. others flung books. Downing shot out orders. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. It is a curious whining noise. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. Downing's desk resembled thunder. go quietly from the room. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. threats. rising from his place." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. sir. Chaos reigned. Downing acidly. _Quietly_. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. Some leaped on to forms. "Stone. you will be severely punished.had asked before him. Downing. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation.

but when you told me to come in. too. Mr. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. Jackson. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. sir. Downing turned to Mike. and paid very little for it. it was true. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. Jackson. Mike the dog. Also he kept wicket for the school. "Well." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. Wilson had supplied the rat. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Mr. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. Wilson. That will do. Wilson?" "Please. Go quietly from the room." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him." he said." said Wilson. "One hundred lines. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. I fear." "I tried to collar him." said Mike. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT ." The meeting dispersed. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. everybody. and had refused to play cricket. sir. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. I had to let him go. frivolous at times. as one who tells of strange things. Downing walked out of the room. come here. but nevertheless a member. and he came in after the rat. We are a keen school. but Mr." And Mr. Jackson. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies." It was plain to Mr. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon."Wolferstan. sir. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. so he came in. "You may go. "Jackson and Wilson.

"As a matter of fact. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. You can freeze on to it. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. "You're a sportsman. asked for the loan of a sovereign. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. he did. Mike's heart warmed to them." "Oh. I do happen to have a quid. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. without preamble. as a matter of fact. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. Jellicoe came into the room. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. it may be stated at once. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. (Which. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. I'm in a beastly hole. and." said Mike. he would be practically penniless for weeks. But it's about all I have got. they should have it. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. and welcomed the intrusion. contemporary with Julius Caesar. They sat down. forgotten. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful." said Robinson. if you like. He felt that he. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. and got up. so don't be shy about paying it back. sorry." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. the return match. The fact is. after the Sammy incident. done with. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. Robinson was laughing. Mike put down his pen. He was in warlike mood. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. Stone beamed. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. Robinson on the table. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. "I say.They say misfortunes never come singly. by return of post. There was. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another.

More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. As for Mike." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No.public school. Winifred's" brand. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. he now found them pleasant company. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. "I got Saturday afternoon. Masters were rather afraid of them. a keen school. You can do what you like. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. loud and boisterous.'" quoted Stone. My pater took me away. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. As to the kind of adventure. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. If you know one end of a bat from the other." said Mike." "'We are. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. They were useful at cricket. and began to get out the tea-things. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. They had a certain amount of muscle. He got a hundred lines. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished." "Don't you!" said Mike. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. "are a rag. you could get into some sort of a team. and a vast store of animal spirits." ." said Stone. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. and you never get more than a hundred lines. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. and then they usually sober down. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. They were absolutely free from brain. "Well. They go about. small and large. above all. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. "Were you sacked?" "No.

I was in the team three years." said Stone." said Stone. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. for a start. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. "I did. "Why. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running." . There are always house matches." said Robinson. "Enough for six. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. My word. Stone broke the silence. You don't get ordered about by Adair. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. Place called Little Borlock. We're playing Downing's."Wrykyn?" said Robinson." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. I say. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. Only a friendly. yes. if I'd stopped on. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. "I've got an idea. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day." "Masters don't play in house matches. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes." "Adair sticks on side. You _must_ play. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. and the others?" "Brother. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. do play." agreed Robinson. "Why." "What!" "Well. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. but they always have it in the fourth week." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. "By Jove. I play for a village near here." said Mike. and I should have been captain this year. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. Stone gaped. and knock the cover off him. W. I say. look here." "Think of the rag.

Most leap at the opportunity. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. and make him alter it." said Mike. "I say. Then footsteps returning down the passage." "Yes. "Thanks awfully. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. . Downing he had the outward aspect of one. but to Mr. Barnes appeared." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. Jackson. Mike was not a genuine convert. "The list isn't up yet. THEN. "Are you the M. then. quite unexpectedly. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert." said Mike. JACKSON. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. and a murmur of excited conversation. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. It was so in Mike's case. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M." he said." They dashed out of the room. and when. I mean. Downing assumed it. He studied his _Wisden_. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag."But the team's full." he said. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. I was in the team. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Mr. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. "I say.

with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. Smith? You are not playing yourself. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss." "Indeed. It was a good wicket. I notice. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. becomes the cricketer of to-day. sir. had naturally selected the best for his own match. "a keen house. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. Drones are not welcomed by us. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. the archaeologist of yesterday. above all. timidly jubilant. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Jackson." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. "What!" he cried." said Psmith earnestly. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. Downing. We are essentially versatile. Adair. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. who was with Mike. Mike saw. It is the right spirit." "In our house. Your enthusiasm has bounds.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. 2 manner--the playful. competition is fierce. Downing's No. in the way he took . and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. as captain of cricket. * * * * * Barnes. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. "I like to see it. "We are." he said. Mike. with a kind of mild surprise. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. With Mike it was different. except for the creases. sir. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. working really hard. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. on the cricket field. contrives to get an innings in a game. sir. where the nervous new boy.

and off the wicket on the on-side. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. Downing irritably. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. Mike took guard. The ball was well up. Jenkins. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. This time the hope was fulfilled. slow." said Mr. as several of the other games had not yet begun. Mike went out at it. in his stand at the wickets. two long steps. A half-volley this time. when delivered. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. but it stopped as Mr. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. and. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Mike slammed it back. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. The first over was a maiden. Mr. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. "Get to them. failed to stop it. but the programme was subject to alterations. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. and he knew that he was good. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. and mid-on. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. The fieldsmen changed over. The ball.guard. was billed to break from leg. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. He took two short steps. as the ball came . The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. took three more short steps. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. Downing's slows. and ended with a combination of step and jump. they were disappointed. He had got a sight of the ball now. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. Mike started cautiously. and dashed up against the rails. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. gave a jump. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. six dangerous balls beautifully played. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own.

and the total of his side. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. offering no more chances. . Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. "Get to them. Downing. there was a strong probability that Mr. and bowling well. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. where. And a shrill small voice. Mike had then made a hundred and three. By the time the over was finished. Mr. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. and. in Adair's fifth over. if you can manage it. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. This happened now with Mr. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. Downing would pitch his next ball short. Then he looked up. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. sat on the splice like a limpet. Downing bowled one more over. uttered with painful distinctness the words. it is usually as well to be batting. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Jenkins. The third ball was a slow long-hop. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. please. and Mike. without the slightest success. by three wides. Adair came up. in addition.back from the boundary. waited in position for number four. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. and then retired moodily to cover-point. Scared by this escape. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. one is inclined to be abrupt." "Sir. The expected happened.

"Sick! I should think they would. As a matter of fact."I didn't say anything of the kind. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. Of all masters. I suppose?" "Not a bit. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation." There was another pause. "I'm not keeping you. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. "Above it. There's a difference. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. won't they?" suggested Barnes. Not up to it. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. politely. "Declare!" said Robinson. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we ." said Stone. thanks. and the school noticed it. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. The result was that not only he himself. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. am I?" said Mike. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. Mr. Barnes's remark that he supposed. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals." There was a silence. "No. having got Downing's up a tree. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. too. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. "I never saw such a chump. "That's just the gay idea. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. was met with a storm of opposition. I said I wasn't going to play here." Adair was silent for a moment." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. Three years. "Great Scott. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. Downing. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation.

Barnes. tried their luck. Adair. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. the small change. At four o'clock. and Stone came out. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. mercifully. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven.can. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. Besides. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. Play was resumed at 2. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. Downing took a couple more overs. proceeded to get to business once more. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. Games had frequently been one-sided. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. that directly he had topped his second century. "If you declare." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history." "Well. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short." "Rather not. was bowling really well. each weirder and more futile than the last. or when one is out without one's gun. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. amidst applause. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished." said Stone with a wide grin. Mr. playing himself in again. The first-change pair are poor. if I can get it." "Don't you worry about that. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. going in first early in the morning. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully." said Robinson. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. in one of which a horse. fortified by food and rest. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. I won't then. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future.15. He retired blushfully to the pavilion." "So do I. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. And the rest. Nor will Robinson. Time. and that is what happened now. But still the first-wicket stand continued. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. greatly daring. I swear I won't field. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. and Mike. it was assumed by the field. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. passing in the road. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break.30. In no previous Sedleigh match. "Only you know they're rather sick already." said Barnes unhappily. Bowlers came and went. after a full day's play. These are the things which mark epochs.

The game has become a farce.. DOWNING'S _Outwood's. 33 M.. but his score." "Absurd. Stone. sir. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him... Lobs were being tried. Mike's pace had become slower. P... and the next after that. we can't unless Barnes does._ J.." said Stone. "Barnes!" "Please." "It is perfect foolery.. "This is foolery. Hammond.. a slip of paper. as who should say. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type.. sir." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. and Stone. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force.. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad.. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. Downing.. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. capital." snapped Mr.. 124 . "Barnes!" he called. _b_.. as was only natural... A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. and the next over..... There was no reply.) A grey dismay settled on the field. But the next ball was bowled.. 277 W. _c_. as a matter of fact. "Capital... Downing walked moodily to his place." "This is absurd. First innings.... too.. not out.. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. "I think Barnes must have left the field. You must declare your innings closed. was mounting steadily.. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic... in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience... nearly weeping with pure joy.. and still Barnes made no sign.way. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was. sir. a week later... but an excellent eye.. just above the mantelpiece... He had an unorthodox style. not out.." "He's very touchy.. there was on view. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_...." Mr." "Declare! Sir. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain.. Barnes. Hassall." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. J. And now let's start _our_ innings.. Jackson.

for three quid.. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries... But your performance was cruelty to animals... discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr." said he..." murmured Mike..... But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated.. Comrade Jellicoe and... "the the place was crept to my side... 471 Downing's did not bat. I suppose. if he had cared to take the part. Mike. touched me This interested Mike.." "I don't care.." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. here and there. could have been the Petted Hero. would have made Job foam at the mouth.. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair.. fagged as he was.. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. Downing... CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night.... shifting his aching limbs in the chair. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket. I should say that. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. When all ringing with song and merriment... in a small way. "In an ordinary way... In fact.Extras.." "He doesn't deserve to. it's worth it. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. On the other hand. and Mike. not to mention three wides. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel... and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. You will probably get sacked. "In theory. is. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. slipping his little hand in mine. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. Psmith.. Twenty-eight off one over. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week.." he said. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler." . "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. leaning against the mantelpiece.

Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. wrapped in gloom. and then dropped gently off. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays." "Nor can I. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. He wanted four." There was a creaking. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. I'm pretty well cleaned out. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood." * * * * * a log. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. nothing." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. the various points of his innings that day. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. I'm stiff all over. but he could not sleep." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. I hope." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what." Silence again. clinking sovereigns. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. who appeared to be to the conversation. he'll pay me back a bit. "I say. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. I can't get to sleep. It was done on the correspondence system. as the best substitute for sleep. Well. "Are you asleep. when he's collected enough for his needs. . Psmith chatted for general. Jackson!" he said. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side.

I don't know. I suppose. too. and you'd drive up to the house. Then he spoke again. and presently you'd hear them come in." "Hullo?" "I say. and then you'd have to hang about. I expect. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked." "Everybody's would. They might all be out. in order to give verisimilitude. and you'd go in." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. He was not really listening. "Hullo?" he said. or to Australia. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. So would mine. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. Have you got any sisters. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. and the servant would open the door."Jackson. "My pater would be frightfully sick. and wait." The bed creaked. I meant. After being sacked. or something. But if you were. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." "Yes. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon." Mike dozed off again. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. And then you'd be sent into a bank. Jackson? I say. Especially my pater. My mater would be sick. "Nobody. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe." "Happen when?" "When you got home. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. as it were. Why?" "Oh. you know. My sister would be jolly sick. and you'd go out into the passage. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . and all that.

or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. where he was a natural genius. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. Except on the cricket field. He resembled ninety per cent." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. "I say. "Do _what_?" "I say. He was as obstinate as a mule." "Any what?" "Sisters. though people whom he liked ." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. I asked if you'd got any. You'll wake Smith. This thing was too much." said Jellicoe eagerly. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. He changed the subject. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. already looking about him for further loans. He had some virtues and a good many defects. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. But it's jolly serious. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. he was just ordinary. of other members of English public schools. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. Was it a hobby."Me--Jellicoe. do you?" "What!" cried Mike." Mike pondered. look out." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe." "Any _what_?" "Sisters.

That would probably be unpleasant. As Psmith had said. He was rigidly truthful. in his childhood. . but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. He was always ready to help people. Downing was a curious man in many ways. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. till Psmith. but. Bob's postal order. Where it was a case of saving a friend. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. where the issue concerned only himself. which had arrived that evening. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. there was the interview with Mr. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. And Mr. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. In addition to this. Young blood had been shed overnight. He had. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. Mr. Downing to come. Yesterday's performance. who had a sensitive ear. The thought depressed him. in addition. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. he was in detention. To begin with. however. one good quality without any defect to balance it. Mr. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. It was a particularly fine day. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. he had never felt stiffer in his life. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. And when he set himself to do this. He was good-natured as a general thing. stood in a class by itself. The great match had not been an ordinary match. which made the matter worse. It was a wrench. Finally. and had. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. it had to be done.could do as they pleased with him. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. Downing and his house realised this. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned.

who happened to have prepared the first half-page. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. No. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. in their experience of the orator. that would not be dramatic enough for you. sir. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. the user of it must be met half-way. Downing came down from the heights with a run. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. Macpherson. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. So Mr. he began in a sarcastic strain. Which Mike. works it off on the boy. "No. That is to say. By the time he had reached his peroration." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. of necessity. Just as. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. I have spoken of this before. that prince of raggers. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. at sea. the skipper. sir. which was as a suit of mail against satire. When a master has got his knife into a boy. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. since the glorious day when Dunster. you must conceal your capabilities. And." "Well. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. more elusive. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers." concluded Mr. Mr. he was perfectly right. Mike. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. You must act a lie. As events turned out. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. when he has trouble with the crew. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. Downing laughed bitterly. For sarcasm to be effective." "Please. Far too commonplace!" Mr. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. "You are surrounded. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. did with much success. Downing. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. the speaker lost his inspiration.Mr. in the excitement of this side-issue. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. It would be too commonplace altogether. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. no. sir.

Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. To their left. on hearing the shout. you know. Mike had strolled out by himself. puts his hands over his skull. and rather embarrassingly grateful. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off the pitch." "Awfully sorry. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. man. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in." said Mike. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground." "It's swelling up rather. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. "Awfully sorry. The bright-blazered youth walked up. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. a long youth. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. "I shall have to be going in. "slamming about like that." said Dunster. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. Jellicoe was cheerful." "I'll give you a hand. zeal outrunning discretion. Jellicoe hopping. Dunster. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. he prodded himself too energetically. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips." said Mike. as they crossed the field. The average person. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. . Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. is not a little confusing. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. uttering sharp howls whenever. "Silly ass. "or I'd have helped you over. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way." he groaned. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. crouches down and trusts to luck. But I did yell. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling.

"A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Before he got there he heard his name called. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. faithful below he did his duty. as he walked to the cricket field. Comrade Jackson. "were at a private school together. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. man. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. pained." said Dunster. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. "More. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever." said Psmith. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. felt very much behind the times. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. I notice. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling." said Psmith. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. apply again." "Alas. and turning. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. I'd no idea I should find him here. Hullo! another man out. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to." "I heard about yesterday. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. The fifth ball bowled a man. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. "You needn't be a funny ass. Mike." . Restore your tissues.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. "more." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. "Return of the exile." said Dunster." "Old Smith and I." said Dunster. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics." stirring sight when we met. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. Have a cherry?--take one or two." sighed Psmith." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. Well hit. Is anything irritating you?" he added. the darling of the crew. and when you have finished those. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "because Jellicoe wants to see you." said the animal delineator. Dunster gave dawg.

at last." said Psmith."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball." "Don't dream of moving." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much.C. he felt disinclined for exertion. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room.C. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. I shall get sacked. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. I suppose. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. Hamlet had got it." said Psmith." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. Mike stretched himself. "I mean. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now." said Psmith to Mike. I need some one to listen when I talk. "Oh! chuck it. "it's too late. the sun was in my eyes. but probably only after years of patient practice. man." "I shall count the minutes. I like to feel that I am doing good. "I hadn't heard. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. it'll keep till tea-time. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. Personally. do you?" he said." said Jellicoe gloomily. not so much physical as mental. "I say." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again." "Has he?" said Psmith. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. Soliloquy is a knack.

"You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. "I'm awfully sorry. for some mysterious reason." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. stout man. "I know what I'll do--it's all right." Jellicoe sat up." "He's the chap I owe the money to." "I say. so I couldn't move. it can. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. with a red and cheerful face. it's frightfully decent of you. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. hang it!" he said." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. who looked ." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. Barley filled the post." said Jellicoe miserably. do you think you could. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. "I say. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. He was a large. are you certain----" "I shall be all right." "It doesn't matter. he was the wag of the village team." said Mike. "Oh." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. called Lower Borlock. it's as easy as anything. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. only I got crocked."It's about that money." "I say. look here. "it can't be helped." "Yes." "What absolute rot!" "But." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. has its comic man. Every village team. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked.

five pounds is a large sum of money. chuck it!" said Mike. another." "I'll get it from him." said Jellicoe. which was unfortunate. "if I can get into the shed. but it did not occur to him to ask. He took the envelope containing the money without question. I----" "Oh." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. and if Jellicoe owed it. there was nothing strange in Mr. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. and be full of the milk he was quite different." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience." "I say. Besides. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened." "All right. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. I won't tell him. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. I think. "it's locked up at night." he said. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. "You can manage that. Probably in business hours After all. "I shall bike there.

"Yes. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. Jackson. until he came to the inn. communicating with the boots' room. However. Jackson was easy-going with his family. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. "I forget which. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. Psmith had yielded up the key. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. with whom early rising was not a hobby.expulsion. Mike did not want to be expelled. "One of the Georges. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. which. also. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. The place was shut. The advantage an inn has over a private house. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. for many reasons. I've given you the main idea of the thing. Mr. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. of course. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. by the cricket field. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. "Why. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. Still. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. there you are." said Psmith. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. too. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. . Mike would have been glad of a companion. Probably he would have volunteered to come. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. 'ullo! Mr. sir?" said the boots. which for the time being has slipped my memory. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. being wishful to get the job done without delay. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence.

Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. Jack. . but rather for a solemn. "Well. and requested him to read it. who was waiting patiently by. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. Jack. the five pounds. I've got some money to give to him. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait." "The five--" Mr. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. Jackson. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. of course. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Mr. and now he felt particularly fogged. read it." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back."I want to see Mr. if it's _that_--" said the boots. Barley. thankful. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person." Mr. which creaked under him. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. "Dear. perhaps. "What's up?" he asked. "You can pop off. hoping for light. Mr." "I must see him. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. Barley. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. Jackson." "Oh. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. It was an occasion for rejoicing. Barley opened the letter." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. Then he collapsed into a chair. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. "Oh dear!" he said. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. and had another attack. dear!" chuckled Mr. and wiped his eyes.

* * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. in fact. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. and as sharp as mustard. it was signed "T. Jellicoe. The other day. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. which I could not get before. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. but. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. I hope it is in time. simply in order to satisfy Mr. is another matter altogether. Mischief! I believe you. but to be placed in a dangerous position. always up to it. So I says to myself.--"I send the £5. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. "he took it all in. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. Jane--she's the worst of the two. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Love us!" Mr. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. Mr. Barley's sense of humour." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. G. took back the envelope with the five pounds. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. 'I'll have a game with Mr. Mike. Aberdeen terriers. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. since." There was some more to the same effect." it ran.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. and the damage'll be five pounds. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. "Why. Barley slapped his leg. Jellicoe over this. they are. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. Mike was . last Wednesday it were. BARLEY. finishing this curious document. the affair of old Tom Raxley. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. "DEAR MR. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. about 'ar parse five. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. and rode off on his return journey. Mr. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Barley slapped his thigh.

of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. carried on up the water-pipe. Sergeant Collard . The suddenness. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. and locked the door. He bolted like a rabbit for the other find this out for himself. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. On the first day of term. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. and. With this knowledge. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. his foot touched something on the floor. his pursuer again gave tongue. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. after which he ran across to Outwood's. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. There were two gates to Mr. Mike felt easier in his mind. and running. went out. and through the study window. and gone to bed. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. This he accomplished with success. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. It was from the right-hand gate. As he did so. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. as Mike came to the ground. Downing's house. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. Without waiting to discover what this might be. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. nearest to Mr. and as he wheeled his machine in. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. that the voice had come. of which the house was the centre. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. however. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. It was pitch-dark in the shed. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. Outwood's front garden.

he sat on the steps. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. but he could not run. as Mike. turned aside. this was certainly the next best thing. His thoughts were miles away. shoot up the water-pipe once more. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. but Time. He left his cover. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. The other appeared startled. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. His programme now was simple. . that he had been seen and followed. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. he supposed--on the school clock. The pursuer had given the thing up. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed.was a man of many fine qualities. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. turned into the road that led to the school. His first impression. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. A sound of panting was borne to him. Like Mike. Focussing his gaze. "Is that you. at Wrykyn. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. increasing his girth. Then he would trot softly back. He would wait till a quarter past. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. this time at a walk. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). He would have liked to be in bed. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. passing through the gate. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. Then the sound of footsteps returning. taking things easily. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. Having arrived there. but. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. and so to bed. instead of making for the pavilion. with the sergeant panting in his wake. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. he was evidently possessed of a key. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. disappeared as the runner. looking out on to the cricket field. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. Meanwhile. He ran on. if that was out of the question. They passed the gate and went on down the road.

after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. was a very fair stomach-ache." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. that MacPhee. Jackson?" "What are you. that Mike. and a pound of cherries. Downing emerged from his gate. half a cocoa-nut. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. Downing." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. and. He walked in that direction. He would be safe now in trying for home again. an apple. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. Adair?" The next moment Mr. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. waiting for Adair's return. Adair rode off. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. All that was wrong with MacPhee. Now it happened that Mr. at a range of about two yards."What are you doing out here." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. with a cry of "Is that you." Mike turned away. two ices. He was off like an . After a moment's pause. aroused from his first sleep by the news. and washing the lot down with tea. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. therefore. as a matter of fact. and Mr. three doughnuts. "I'm going for the doctor. whistling between his teeth. conveyed to him by Adair. The school clock struck the quarter. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. was disturbed in his mind. was now standing at his front gate. So long. It came about. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. But Mr. One of the chaps in our house is bad.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

He did not want to smile. taking advantage of the door being open. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. only. in spite of his strict orders. "One of the boys at the school. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. he went straight to the headmaster. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. Mr. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red." said Mr. The Head. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. He received the housemaster frostily. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. The headmaster. It was not his . no. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. whoever he was. I suppose not. "He--he--_what_. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. did want to smile." Mr. was not in the best of tempers. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. he wanted revenge." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. instead of running about the road. you think?" "I am certain of it. Downing. A big boy. He had a cold in the head. you say?" "Very big. Downing. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. on the other hand. escaped and rushed into the road." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. "Dear me!" he said." "No. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. who." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. Mr. deeply interested.

as far as I understand. had seen. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. the rest was comparatively easy. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Oh yes. Downing as they walked back to lunch. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. broke into a wild screech of laughter. unidentified. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. Downing was left with the conviction that. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Downing. who. It was only . at the time. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. and Mr. Outwood. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. and Fate. not to mention cromlechs." Mr. Mr. with the exception of Johnson III. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. and passed it on to Mr.. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. Downing was not listening. of Outwood's. but without result. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr." Which he did. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. if he wanted the criminal discovered. I think." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. gave him a most magnificent start. Downing. he would have to discover him for himself. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr." "Impossible. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. It was Downing. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. Downing. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Outwood who helped him. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. "Not actually in.

" The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. he used to say. sir. sir. sir. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. sir. Oo-oo-oo. Feeflee good at spottin'. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. "Did you catch sight of his face. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction." he said. but it finishes in time. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. and I doubles after 'im prompt.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. yer young monkey. I am. "tells me that last night." he said. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. Downing stated his case. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. in order to ensure privacy. Dinner was just over when Mr. found himself at liberty. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. Dook of Connaught. Outwood. he rushed forth on the trail. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. yer. sir--spotted 'im. "Mr. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping.' he used to say. "I did. sergeant?" "No. Downing arrived. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. sir. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. ejecting the family. Mr. Downing. which the latter was about to do unasked. I did. sir. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. as a blind man could have told. Having requested his host to smoke.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. In due course Mr. "Oo-oo-oo. sergeant." "Ah!" . and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. Regardless of the claims of digestion.

while Sergeant Collard. the result of luck. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. sergeant." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. sir. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." "So do I. put a handkerchief over his face. on Wednesday. with a label attached. sergeant. "Good-afternoon.C. sir.C. Downing rose to go. and slept the sleep of the just. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. sir. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. sir. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once." "Good-afternoon to you." he said. 'cos yer see. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. but it was a dark night. rubbing the point in."Bare-'eaded. "Well. Outwood's house. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. sir. success in the province of detective work must always be. Good afternoon." added the sergeant. if he persisted in making so much noise. and exhibited clearly. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. having requested Mrs. Very hot to-day." And Mr. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. and dusted. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. to a very large extent. rested his feet on the table. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." "I hope not. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him." Mr. The school plays the M." "Pray do not move. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. . "I will find my way out. sergeant.

and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. he thought. even and. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. We should simply have hung around. but. just as the downtrodden medico did. this time in the shape of Riglett. If you go to a boy and say. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. There were. Mr. saying: "My dear Holmes. when Fate once more intervened. now that he had started to handle his own first case. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. a junior member of his house. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. having capped Mr." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. we should have been just as dull ourselves. to detect anybody. tight-lipped smiles. All these things passed through Mr. but even if there had been only one other. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles.The average man is a Doctor Watson. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. unless you knew who had really done the crime. Watson increased with every minute. What he wanted was a clue. "Sir. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. requested that way peculiar to some boys. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. shouting to him to pick them up. Mr. It certainly was uncommonly hard. if he only knew. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. only a limited number of boys in Mr. there were clues lying all over the place. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. As he brooded over the case in hand. of course. as a matter of fact. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. his sympathy for Dr. it would have complicated matters. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. but. and his methods. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. how--?" and all the rest of it. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. Probably." the boy does not reply. But if ever the emergency does arise. and leaves the next move to you. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . Outwood's house. It is practically Stalemate.

Watson a fair start. Watson could not have overlooked. Mr. extracted his bicycle from the rack. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. What he saw at first was not a Clue. "and be careful where you tread. Mr. He felt for his bunch of keys. And this was a particularly messy mess. Then suddenly. Downing to mundane matters. he saw the clue. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. however.bicycle from the shed. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school." he said. The air was full of the pungent scent. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. A foot-mark! No less. Downing. Then Mr. walking delicately through dry places. and he is a demon at the game. It was the ground-man's paint. Downing. beneath the disguise of the mess. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. and finally remarked. Downing. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. Riglett. leaving Mr. "Get your bicycle. In the first place. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. but just a mess. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. Mr. Much thinking had made him irritable. Your careful detective must consider everything. Paint. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. now coughed plaintively. to be considered. stood first on his left foot. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. and made his way to the shed. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. Red paint. "Pah!" said Mr. Give Dr. Downing remembered. Yoicks! There were two things. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. The sound recalled Mr. Downing unlocked the door. then on his right. Downing saw it. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. A foot-mark. blushed. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration." Riglett. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field.

A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. I didn't go into the shed at all. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. "No. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. and the ground-man came out in . Adair. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. There are three in a row. His is the first you come to. He rapped at the door of the first. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No." he said. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. Oh. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. by the way. Adair. sir. You did not do that. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. Adair. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. He could get the ground-man's address from him. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. on the right as you turn out into the road." "It is spilt all over the floor. "Oh.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. I suppose. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. Things were moving. don't get up. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. that there was paint on his boots. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. Thank you.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. but I could show you in a second. There's a barn just before you get to them. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. His book had been interesting. on returning to the house." "Thank you. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter." "I see. sir. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. sir. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. I shall be able to find them. Quite so.

Thank you. Just as I thought. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window.his shirt-sleeves. Quite so. Makes it look shabby. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. sir. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. sir. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. Markby. You had better get some more to-morrow. blinking as if he had just woke up. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. sir?" "No. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. and spilt. with the result that it has been kicked over. sir? No. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. and denounce him to the headmaster. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded." "Do you want it. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. sir. Markby. as was indeed the case. He was hot on the scent now. yes. Outwood's house somewhere." "On the floor?" "On the floor. It was Sunday. no. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. Tell me. thank you. The fact is. "Oh. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. sir." "Just so. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. The thing had become simple to a degree. That is all I wished to know. All he had to do was to go to Mr. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets." Mr. Markby. thank you. On the shelf at the far end. ascertain its owner. Regardless of the heat. It wanted a lick of paint bad. too." "Of course. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. An excellent idea. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . Picture.

Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. I will be with you in about two ticks. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. "There's a kid in France. I wonder! Still. Outwood. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. . Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. who had just entered the house. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." murmured Psmith courteously. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. no matter. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. "Or shall I fetch Mr. and said nothing. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel." snapped Mr. "Enough of this spoolery. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance." said Psmith. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. sir. He is welcome to them. "I was an ass ever to try it." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything." said Mike. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. Smith." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. found Mr. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. Downing. That is to say. sir?" "Do as I tell you. sir." said Mike disparagingly. "What the dickens. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. as he passed. "A warm afternoon. Downing arrived. What brings him round in this direction. and Psmith. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are." Mike walked on towards the field." said he." "'Tis well." "With acute pleasure.

" Mr. baffled. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. "Aha!" said Psmith. sir? No. sir?" he asked. Smith. Mr. "to keep your remarks to yourself. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. This is Barnes'. sir. An idea struck the master. sir. Downing rose." said Mr. "Here." said Psmith. Smith." he cried." "I was only wondering. "Shall I lead the way. It is Mr. Downing looked at him closely. then moved on. "The studies. Each boy. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. "Are you looking for Barnes. "Show me the next dormitory. sir. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. The matron being out. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. Downing nodded. having examined the last bed. Downing paused. sir. "I beg your pardon. Downing with asperity. Here we have----" Mr. That's further down the passage. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. crimson in the face with the exercise. The observation escaped me unawares. but went down to the matron's room." said Psmith." They moved on up the passage. An airy room. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. Mr. The master snorted suspiciously. opening a door. Mr. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. "Is this impertinence studied. "Excuse me." said Psmith." Mr.Psmith said no more. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. "we have Barnes' dormitory. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. "I think he's out in the field. . Smith. I understand. Psmith waited patiently by." he said. Downing stopped short. sir. panting slightly. "This.

" "Ah! Thank you. is mine and Jackson's. No." said Mr. sir?" said Psmith. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything ." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. Downing pondered." Mr. sir. sir. putting up his eyeglass. they go out extremely quickly. Downing suddenly started. "This." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. The cricketer. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. sir. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. Downing with irritation. Smith?" "Jackson. Smith. "No. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar." "Never mind about his cricket. sir. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. "A lovely view. is it not. that Mr. sir. sir." Mr. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. sir. "Have you no bars to your windows here. the field. even in the dusk." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr." said Psmith. the distant hills----" Mr." "Not at all. Smith." "I think. "The trees. rapping a door. And. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. sir."Whose is this?" he asked.

"go and bring that basket to me here. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. he did not know. I noticed them as he went out just now." Mr. Edmund. But that there was something. Downing then. Such a moment came to Mr. he would have achieved his object. by a devious and snaky route. Downing knelt on the floor beside . That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. It was a fine performance. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind." he said. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up." "Smith. "His boots. sir--no." said Psmith affably. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. sir. sir? He has them on. "We have here. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. Downing looked up. As it was. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one." said Mr. our genial knife-and-boot boy. collects them. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. prompting these manoeuvres." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went his life. and straightened out the damaged garment. "On the spot. "Smith!" he said excitedly." Mr. sir. that they would be in the basket downstairs. he was certain. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. Psmith had noticed. Psmith leaned against the wall. If he had been wise. Mr. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. and dumped is down on the study floor. I believe." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. Mr. sir. sir." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. Smith?" "Not one. he rushed straight on. "a fair selection of our various bootings. Downing. Downing stooped eagerly over it. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. "I should say at a venture. and bent once more to his task. Boots flew about the room. at early dawn. trembling with excitement.

sir?" "Certainly not. on the following day. It was "Brown. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. sir?" Mr. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. rose to his feet. "I think it would be best. I shall take this with me. then. Smith. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. when Mr. rising. might be a trifle undignified. of course. and. Thither Mr. Downing. understood what before had puzzled him. Downing had finished. and doing so. began to pick up the scattered footgear. Downing reflected. Downing left the room. . "Indeed?" he said. You can carry it back when you return. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. Psmith looked at it again. boot-maker." "Shall I put back that boot." Mr. Leave the basket here." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. with an exclamation of triumph. one puts two and two together. Smith." "Come with me. The ex-Etonian. After a moment Psmith followed him. Downing made his way. "Put those back again." he said. "Yes." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. sir. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. of course. At last he made a dive." "Shall I carry it. The headmaster was in his garden. "Ah. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. sir.the basket. "No. He knew nothing. In his hand he held a boot." he said. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. carrying a dirty boot. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Bridgnorth. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint." he said. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr." as he did so. and when. "That's the lot. Psmith took the boot.

"Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. Of any suspicion of paint. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care." said the headmaster. Mr. Psmith. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. "now let me so. "You must have made a mistake.. These momentary optical delusions are. Downing was the first to break the silence." he said vehemently. sir." "This is foolery. the cynosure of all eyes. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. Mr. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Smith. But." said Psmith chattily. Mr. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. I saw it with my own eyes. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. Downing. Just Mr. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah.. Just. There was no paint on this boot. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. fixed stare. I fancy. "There was paint on this boot. Downing. putting on a pair of look at--This. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. er. Smith will bear me out in this. is the--? Just so. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. "who was remarkably subject----" . red or otherwise. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. you say. It was a broad splash right across the toe. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. it was absolutely and entirely innocent." The headmaster interposed. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression.. this boot with exactly where Mr. putting up his eyeglass. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. sir. not uncommon. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr.

really. Mr. if I may----?" "Certainly." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded." "You are very right. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. Smith. Mr." murmured Psmith." said the headmaster. I cannot have been mistaken. at the moment. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. "You had better be careful. Smith?" "Did I speak. Smith. Downing looked searchingly at him. "that is surely improbable." "It is undoubtedly black now." "A sort of chameleon boot. Downing. had not time to fade. Mr. "for pleasure." "Exactly." "Yes." "Really." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. "My theory. Smith." said Psmith. sir."It is absurd. I remember thinking myself. I can assure you that it does not brush off. "May I go now. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. sir?" . Downing recollects. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. The afternoon sun. sir. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. sir?" said Psmith. Downing." said the headmaster. "What did you say. "My theory. The picture on the retina of the eye. with simple dignity. is that Mr. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance." said Psmith with benevolent approval." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. sir." said Psmith. The goaded housemaster turned on him. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. Downing shortly. Downing. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. Shall I take the boot with me. sir. streaming in through the window. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. "Well." said Mr. sir. consequently." "I am reading it. he did not look long at the boot. If Mr.

and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. and Mr. however. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden." said the housemaster. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. The scrutiny irritated Mr. if they had but known it. where are we? In the soup. he reflected. The possibility. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. sir?" "Yes. with a sigh. and rose to assist him. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. Downing was brisk and peremptory." he said. Downing appeared. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. "That thing." he said to himself approvingly. "I wish to look at these boots again. he. On arriving at the study." . was a most unusual sight." Psmith sat down again. and lock the cupboard. "Put that thing away. having included both masters in a kindly smile. "Brain. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. he raced down the road. "Sit down. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. that ridiculous glass. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. Smith. "I can manage without your help. too. and turning in at Outwood's gate. Downing. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. left the garden. On this occasion. in fact the probability. laid down his novel. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. Psmith. Put it away. and the latter. every time. the spectacle of Psmith running. Psmith and Mike. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. Smith. hurried over to Outwood's. were friends." he said. Without brain. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Outwood's at that moment saw what. Mr."If Mr.

Downing." "I think you will find that it is locked. perhaps. and his chin on his hands. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. sir. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. Downing rapped the door irritably." Psmith took up his book again. sir. now thoroughly irritated. sir. This cupboard. A ball of string. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. on sight. but each time without success. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. who. after fidgeting for a few moments. sir. Nothing of value or interest. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. The floor could be acquitted." Mr. After the second search." "May I read. We do not often use it. sir?" "Yes. He rested his elbows on his knees. he stood up. of harbouring the quarry." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. "Yes. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. read if you like. "Just a few odd trifles. "Smith!" he said. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look." . patiently. Smith. There was very little cover there. "Don't sit there staring at me." "Thank you." "Open it. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. Possibly an old note-book. "Yes. sir. His eye roamed about the room." "I was interested in what you were doing. He went through it twice. sir?" asked Psmith. and Mr. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. lodged another complaint."Why." "I guessed that that was the reason." "Never mind. and looked wildly round the room.

"I'm afraid you mustn't do that. sir. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr." he said. perhaps----! On the other hand. Outwood." "But where is the key. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. Jackson might have taken it. staring into vacancy. He also reflected. Smith?" he inquired acidly. Then he was seized with a happy idea. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. and ask him to be good . Mr. Outwood."Unlock it." Psmith got up. If you wish to break it open." Mr." Mr. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me." Mr. Downing thought for a moment. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. I am only the acting manager. amazed. And I know it's not Mr. Downing stared. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. you must get his permission. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. sir." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. Smith would be alone in the room. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. "go and find Mr. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. sir. sir. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. Outwood. And he knew that. I shall break open the door. if Smith were left alone in the room." he said shortly. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. "Yes. "I don't believe a word of it. "Smith. Downing paused.

Downing's voice was steely. "_Quick_. to take a parallel case. sir. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. sir. who resumed the conversation. Outwood's house. Mr. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say." "What!" "Yes." "one cannot. and explain to him how matters stand. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. I say to myself. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. I ought to have remembered that before. If you will go to Mr. "Go and find Mr. "Thwarted to me face. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. "Yes. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick." he said. and come back and say to me. "Let us be reasonable. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. Smith?" Mr. I would fly to do your bidding. Outwood. "Do you intend to disobey me." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master." Psmith still made no move. If you pressed a button." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. "on a technical point. His manner was almost too respectful.enough to come here for a moment. But in Mr. Outwood. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. I would do the rest." he said. 'Mr. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . sir. however. your word would be law. One cannot. Outwood at once. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. 'Psmith. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Mr. as who should say. So in my case. Smith. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. "I take my stand." he continued. "If you will let me explain. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. ha. Smith.

On a level with the sill the water-pipe. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. and took out the boot. blackening his hand. Outwood. Downing sharply. Outwood." added Mr. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr." "I can assure you." why he should not do so if he wishes it. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. "But. You see my difficulty. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Then he turned to the boot. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. Outwood. A shower of soot fell into the grate. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. "Yes. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. there will be a boot there when you Smith?" asked Mr. I shall not tell you again. Placing this in the cupboard. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. unlocked the cupboard. and thrust it up the chimney." said Mr. when it had stopped swinging. Downing wishes me to do. "Smith. as the footsteps died away. Mr." He took the key from his pocket. sir. he went to the window. and with him Mr. and. he re-locked the door." Mr. the latter looking dazed." snapped the sleuth. He noticed with approval." "My dear Outwood. Downing suspiciously. Downing stalked out of the room. Smith. When he returned.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. and washed off the soot. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. He tied the other end of the string to this. He went there." "H'm!" said Mr. "Where have you been." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. Downing was in the study. at any rate. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard." added Psmith pensively to himself. Smith. I saw Smith go into the bathroom." . Outwood with spirit. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. "I have been washing my hands. "Very well. sir. and let the boot swing free.

Outwood with asperity. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. Smith?" "I must have done." "So with your permission. do you understand?" Mr. was open for all to view. glaring at Psmith. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. sir. with any skeletons it might contain. my dear Outwood." "It certainly appears. and painted my dog Sampson red." Mr. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. Let me see. "Objection? None at all. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. Last night a boy broke out of your house. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Mr. "I told you." said Psmith." said Psmith sympathetically." he said. Then. At any rate. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. he did. none at all. The cupboard. Now. Downing shortly. Downing seized one of these. and tore the boot from its resting-place. "I told you. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. "This is not the boot. He never used them. "I've been looking for it for days. Outwood started. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. sir. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Mr." "He painted--!" said Mr. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . "This boot has no paint on it. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. The wood splintered." he said. Outwood. Outwood. round-eyed." he added helpfully. if you look at it sideways." said Psmith." said Mr. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. Downing?" interrupted Mr. as Smith declares that he has lost the key." "I wondered where that boot had got to. "Why?" "I don't know why. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. Downing was examining his find. my dear fellow."Exactly. "We must humour him. "to be free from paint. "Did you place that boot there. approvingly. Psmith'a expression said. Have you any objection?" Mr. "You have touched the spot." "If I must explain again. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. belonging to Mike.

rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw." he said. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. "WHAT!" . after all. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. not to have given me all this trouble. Smith?" he asked slowly. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. and one could imagine him giving Mr. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. Outwood had the grate. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. though. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. "Ah. and thrust an arm up into the unknown." Mr. A little more. sir. You were not quite clever enough." "You would have done better. Downing a good. hard knock. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. from earth to heaven. sir. once more. "Animal spirits.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. "We all make mistakes. he used the sooty hand. Unfortunately. Downing laughed grimly. You have done yourself no good by it. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. Downing's eye. baffled. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. Downing." argued Psmith. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. sir." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. It should have been done before. He looked up. and a thrill went through him. SMITH?"] "Yes. Smith. He bent down to "Dear me. "I thought as much. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. Smith." said Psmith. "Fun!" Mr. nearly knocking Mr. Mr. but he ignored it." "No. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel.") Mr." he said. Outwood off his feet. Apply them. sir." said Psmith patiently. my dear Watson. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE." "It's been great fun.

the boot-boy. but on the whole it had been worth it. "You will hear more of this. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. quite covered. You are quite black. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. Let me show you the way to my room."Animal spirits. and it was improbable that Mr. He went down beneath it. for a man of refinement. and it had cut into his afternoon. It is positively covered with soot. at the back of the house. he went up to the study again. In the language of the Ring. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. Downing had found the other." he said. Outwood. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. most. and hauled in the string. sir. "I say you will hear more of it. It seemed to him that. and sponges. It had been trying. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. It would take a lot of cleaning. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. sir. The boot-cupboard was empty. you present a most curious appearance. until he should have thought out a scheme. Really. he saw. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. he took the count. . * * * * * When they had gone. as he had said. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. for the time being. "Soot!" "Your face is covered." Then he allowed Mr. far from the madding crowd." said Psmith. His fears were realised." What Mr. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. my dear fellow." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. just as he was opening his mouth. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. worked in some mysterious cell. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. Edmund." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. It was the knock-out. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. Psmith went to the window. intervened." he said. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. Mr. of course. "My dear Downing. Mr. soap. Having restored the basket to its proper place. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. For. at about the same height where Mr. Smith. positively. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. accordingly. You must come and wash it. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. "your face. though one can guess roughly.

for instance. But. but. Boys say. he should not wear shoes. So Psmith kept his own counsel. "Well. So in the case of boots. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. the thing creates a perfect sensation. to be gained from telling Mike. At a school. Mr. Mr. It was not altogether forgetfulness. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. There was nothing. thank goodness." as much as to say. I mean--Oh." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. and then said." Edmund turned this over in his mind. "No. I can still understand sound reasoning. Edmund. Jackson. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. "I may have lost a boot. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. which one observes naturally and without thinking. should he prefer them. Edmund. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. There is no real reason why. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. sir. there's the bell. "Great Scott. Psmith was no exception to the rule. if the day is fine. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. if he does. he thought. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. had no views on the subject. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found." replied Edmund to both questions. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master." he said. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. "'Ere's one of 'em. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. "One? What's the good of that. some wag is sure either to stamp on the ." "Well. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. Jackson. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. "Jones. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. dash it.

had regarded Mike with respect. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. Jackson?" "Pumps. He said "Yes. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. or else to pull one of them off. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. as sir. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. Downing. It was only Mr. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. "I have lost one of my boots. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. and finally "That will do. "Yes. leaning back against the next row of desks. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. sir?" said Mike. sir. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots.. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. was taken unawares. but they feel it in their bones. he floundered hopelessly. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. accordingly. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. stiffening like a pointer. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it.. They cannot see it. Mr. with a few exceptions. Then. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Stone." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. and the subsequent proceedings. looking on them. turning to Stone. When he found the place in his book and began to construe." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. yes. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. called his name. Downing who gave trouble. lines. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. as he usually did. Satire. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. of a vivid crimson. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. Mr. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. he told him to start translating. But.. On one occasion. Mike." mechanically. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. abuse. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. Downing's lips. and the form. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite.

And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game.C. and no strain. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. said. Downing feel at that moment. "Wal. They played well enough when on the field. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. completed the chain. it is no joke taking a high catch. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance." said Robinson. Mike himself. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. "if it wasn't bad for the heart." said Stone. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. As a rule. match on the Wednesday. "It's all rot. however. His case was complete. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. Downing's mind was in a whirl." "Personally. and sped to the headmaster. that searching test of cricket keenness. Mike's appearance in shoes. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. Until the sun has really got to work. "I don't intend to stick it. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. In view of the M. to wit. Rushing about on an empty stomach.returned. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice." ." "I shouldn't wonder. gnawing his bun." said Stone. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. compared with Mike's. and the first American interviewer. which nobody objects to. and all that sort of thing. I mean. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. came to a momentous decision. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents.C. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. he gathered up his gown. consequently. yawning and heavy-eyed. jumping on board. Mr. in the cool morning air. sir.

We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. Mr. He can't play the M. You were rotten to-day. after all? Only kick us out of the team. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. leaving the two malcontents speechless. questioned on the subject. The result of all this was that Adair." said Robinson." "All right. "at six. you know. either. With the majority. what can he do. "Rather. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. but in reality he has only one weapon. Stone and Robinson felt secure." "I don't think he will kick us out. You two must buck up. as they left the shop. unless he is a man of action." "I mean. The majority. Which was not a great help. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. wherever and however made. "Let's." he said. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for.C. he'd better find somebody else. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. "He can do what he likes about it. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. then he finds himself in a difficult position." And he passed on." "Yes. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. it's such absolute rot." Their position was a strong one." he said briskly. of course. had no information to give. Barnes. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . Stone was the first to recover. Downing. Taking it all round. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. and. consequently. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind.C. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. Besides. And I don't mind that. the keenness of those under him. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. found himself two short. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. are easily handled." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. with a scratch team. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school." "Nor do I. Barnes was among those present."Nor do I. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. who his right. If he does. practically helpless." At this moment Adair came into the shop. At breakfast that morning thought. and the chance of making runs greater.

He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. "We didn't turn up. He resolved to interview the absentees. physical or moral. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. "Hullo. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "I know you didn't.daily paper before the bell rang. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. however. "You were rather fed-up. To-day. I suppose?" "That's just the word. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold." "Oh?" "Yes. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. "Sorry. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. We didn't give it the chance to. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. said nothing. not having seen the paper." Robinson laughed appreciatively. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air." Adair's manner became ominously calm. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. who. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind." "It didn't. Adair!" "Don't mention it. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. Many captains might have passed the thing over. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson." "Sorry it bored you. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. "We decided not to." he said. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. Stone spoke. . He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. who left the lead to Stone in all matters." said Stone. He never shirked anything. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty.

All the same. We'll play for the school all right. He was up again in a moment. Adair. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. You must see that you can't do anything. Adair had pushed the table back. Of course. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. Adair." said Stone. if you like." said Stone." "That'll be a disappointment. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. We've told you we aren't going to. I'll give you till five past six. "There's no joke." "Good." Stone intervened." "Don't be an ass. Robinson?" asked Adair. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." said the junior partner in the firm."What's the joke. Don't be late." "You can turn out if you feel like it. So we're all right. "It's no good making a row about it." said Robinson. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for." "Well." "You don't think there is? You may be right. as you seem to like lying in bed. and knocked him down. you are now. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast." said Adair quietly. "I wasn't ready. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. "I was only thinking of something." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. and was standing in the middle of the open space." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. Shall we go on?" . "Right. with some haste. but we don't care if you do. "You cad. I think you are. You won't find me there." "That's only your opinion. you're going to to-morrow morning. you can kick us out of the team. but he said it without any deep conviction." "What!" "Six sharp. Nor Robinson?" "No.

"I should like a word with him if he isn't busy." Stone made no reply. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "All right. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . even in a confined space.Stone dashed in without a word." he said hastily. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show." said Adair. He was not altogether a coward." said Stone. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. and he knew more about the game. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. "Thanks." "Good. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. How about you." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. but he was cooler and quicker. "All right. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." said Adair. "Thanks. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. I don't know if he's still there. "You don't happen to know if he's in. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. "I'll turn up. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs." "I'll go and see. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table." said Adair. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. But science tells." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike.

may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. This was one of them. The Incogs.on below stairs. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. If only he could have been there to help. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. was hard lines on Ripton. In school cricket one good batsman." he said. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. And it was at this point. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. that Adair. which had been ebbing during the past few days. Psmith was the first to speak. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. led by Mike's brother Reggie. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. returned with a rush. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. In fact. and went on reading. entered the room. fortunately. wrote Strachan. Mike mourned over his suffering school. * * * * * Psmith. said Strachan. Which. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. The Ripton match.C. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. including Dixon. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row.C. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. Since this calamity. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. everything had gone wrong. the fast bowler.. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. He's had a . had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. Altogether. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. was off. A broken arm. "If you ask my candid opinion. The M. It might have made all the difference. when his resentment was at its height. looking up from his paper. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer.

note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. For some reason." Psmith turned away. The fact that the M. "There are lines on my face." "That. This is no time for loitering. Speed is the key-note of the present age. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. It won't take long. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. We must hustle. the Pride of the School. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. Despatch. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. We must be strenuous. "has led your footsteps to the right place. sitting before you. Shakespeare. but it was pretty lively while it did. Adair. "is right. "It didn't last long. Leave us. Promptitude. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. "Certainly. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. We must Do It Now. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. the poacher. after a prolonged inspection. He's just off there at the end of this instalment." ." said Psmith." said Adair. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away." said Adair grimly." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. dark circles beneath my eyes." he sighed. That is Comrade Jackson. "Surely. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. too. is waiting there with a sandbag." said Psmith approvingly. He could not quite follow what all this was about. knave. I thought that you and he were like brothers. "We weren't exactly idle." "Fate. Stone chucked it after the first round. We----" "Buck up. We would brood. Adair was looking for trouble. which might possibly be made dear later." said Adair. "I'll tell you in a minute." said Mike.C. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson." "What do you want?" said Mike. Oh." said Psmith. go thee. "I'm not the man I was. Care to see the paper." he said.C. I bet Long Jack. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece." Mike got up out of his chair. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. I'll none of thee.

He's going to all right. "I am." "My eyes. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit." added Adair. "it's too late to alter that now. and in that second Psmith." he added philosophically. so we argued it out. There was an electric silence in the study. turning to Mike." said Psmith regretfully. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. Mike said nothing. You aren't building on it much. and I want you to get some practice. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. So is Robinson." "I don't think so. I know.said Adair. rather. "So are you. "I'm going to make you.?" he asked curiously. However." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. "Oh?" said Mike at last." Mike remained silent." replied Adair with equal courtesy. Adair moved to meet him. and Adair looked at Mike." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. He said he wouldn't. turning from the glass. are you?" said Mike politely." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes." said Psmith from the mantelpiece.C. stepped between them. "are a bit close together.C. . after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another.C. "I get thinner and thinner. isn't it?" "Very. Mike looked at Adair." Mike took another step forward." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. "What makes you think I shall play against the M.C. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. to-morrow.

In an ordinary contest with the gloves. It was this that saved Mike. however much one may want to win. a mere unscientific scramble. "My dear young friends. I don't want all the study furniture smashed." he said placidly. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. one does not dislike one's opponent. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. then. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. I suppose you must." said Mike. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. "The rounds. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. nothing could have prevented him winning. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. where you can scrap all night if you want to. Smith. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. Up to the moment when "time" was called. Directly Psmith called "time."Get out of the light. I lodge a protest. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. If you really feel that you want to scrap. hates the other. without his guiding hand. "will be of three minutes' duration. Are you ready. one was probably warmly attached to him. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. and are consequently brief and furious. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. On the present occasion. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. . Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. If Adair had kept away and used his head. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. The latter was a clever boxer." he said. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. only a few yards down the road. what would have been. as a rule. producing a watch. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. In a boxing competition. Dramatically. But school fights. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows." After which. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. In a fight each party. Time. with a minute rest in between.

coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. I think. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. Psmith saw. The feat presented that interesting person. after all. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring." said Psmith. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. if I were you." said Psmith. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. the deliverer of knock-out blows. now rendered him reckless. the cricketer. was strange to him. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin.As it was." "Is he hurt much. coming forward. In the excitement of a fight--which is. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. We may take that. He went in at Mike with both hands. Mike had the greater strength. Mike Jackson. He rose full of fight. If it's going to be continued in our next. and. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. do you think?" asked Mike. "Brief. and he was all but knocked out. he threw away his advantages." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. that Adair was done. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. At the same time. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. The Irish blood in him. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. There was a swift exchange of blows. I'll look after him. "_He's_ all right. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. I shouldn't stop. so he hit out with all his strength. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. however. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. thirty seconds from the start. but with all the science knocked out of him. Then he lurched forward at Mike. This finished Adair's chances. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. Jackson. He got up slowly and with difficulty. as anybody looking on would have seen. . to be the conclusion of the entertainment. Mike could not see this. he knew. You go away and pick flowers. which would do him no earthly good. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. but Jackson. that there was something to be said for his point of view. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. "but exciting. and then Adair went down in a heap. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first.

However. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. Jones. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. and drained the bad blood out of him. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh." "He's all right. It shook him up. before." said Mike indignantly. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. to a certain extent. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up.C. "Sha'n't play. He's not a bad cove. You didn't. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. when Psmith entered the study. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. "Look here. why not?" .C. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. He had come to this conclusion." continued Psmith. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. of course?" "Of course not. Psmith straightened his tie. not afraid of work." he said. And as he's leaving at the end of the term." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. It's not a bad idea in its way. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. had the result which most fights have. We have been chatting. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. There was a pause. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. after much earnest thought. Where. My eloquence convinced him. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. but every one to his taste. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. As a start. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair.' game. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home." said Mike. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. in fact. if possible. to return to the point under discussion.The fight. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid.

I fought against it." "----Dismiss it. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night." "You're rotting. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. Last year. bar rotting. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. And in time the thing becomes a habit. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. I hate to think." said Psmith. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces." "No. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. "You're what? You?" "I. "If your trouble is. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. where was I? Gone. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. What Comrade Outwood will say. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. when I came here. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. You said you only liked watching it. and drifted with the stream." said Psmith. Comrade Jackson. I do." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. but look here. I did think. but it was not to be." Mike stared. "my secret sorrow." "You wrong me." said Psmith. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. that I had found a haven of rest. and polishing it with his handkerchief." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. Smith."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. breathing on a coat-button. but it was useless. However----" . _I_ am playing. But when the cricket season came. and after a while I gave up the struggle. little by little." "Quite right. I turn out to-morrow.

" "Not a bad scheme. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. "there won't be a match at all . And they had both worked it off. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. I'll go round." he said. It's nothing bad. He's not playing against the M. Close the door gently after you. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. which had been gathering all day. If Psmith. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. Since the term began.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. Psmith whimsically. He's sprained his wrist. But. He was not by nature intuitive. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. it went." On arriving at Mr. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. and ran back to Outwood's. but he read Psmith's mind now. I'll write a note to Adair now. You won't have to. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. I'll play. and here was Psmith. broke in earnest. Anyhow. A moment later there was a continuous patter." "That's all right." "I say. A spot of rain fell on his hand.C. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. as the storm. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. "if you're playing. but useless to anybody who values life. Downing's and going to Adair's study. Mike turned up his coat-collar. "By Jove.C." he said to himself. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. Then in a flash Mike understood. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. therefore. "At this rate. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. the recalcitrant. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. Adair won't be there himself. I don't know. Here was he. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. wavering on the point of playing for the school.

" "I often do cut it rather fine. "About nine to. So do I. in the gentle. . Adair fished out his watch. "It's only about ten to. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. though. Might be three." "Good. Three if one didn't hurry. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. to show what it can do in another direction. yes. We've got plenty of time. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. I should think." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school." "Oh. after behaving well for some weeks. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. while figures in mackintoshes. crawl miserably about the field in couples." "Beastly nuisance when one does." "So do I. They walked on in silence. shuffling across to school in a met Adair at Downing's gate." * * * * * When the weather decides." "Yes." "Yes. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet." Another silence." "I hate having to hurry over to school. damp and depressed. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. it does the thing thoroughly. isn't it?" said Mike. "Right ho!" said Adair. shouldn't you?" "Not much more." "Beastly. if one didn't hurry. These moments are always difficult. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness." "Yes. Mike. with discoloured buckskin boots. and then the rain began again.

. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year.." "Oh. I should think he'd be a hot bowler. You'd have smashed me anyhow.." Silence again." "I bet you I shouldn't. no. rather not.." "Oh." "I bet you anything you like you would." "Oh. It looks pretty bad."Beastly day. no." "Yes. we ought to have a jolly good season. It was my fault. doesn't it?" "Rotten. no." "Yes. I say. Jolly hard luck." "Good." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. that's all right. thanks. "I don't know." . with his height. probably." said Mike. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. It was only right at the end.." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "We've heaps of time..." "Oh. "I say. rot. "Rotten. scowling at his toes. "Five to." "Oh.. Less." "Rummy." said Adair.. "awfully sorry about your wrist." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. just before the match. I say. that's all right. Adair produced his watch once more. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. rot.

It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. that's all right. So they ought to be. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain." Adair shuffled awkwardly. It was only for a bit. fortunately." "He never even asked me to get him a place. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. and blundered into a denunciation of the place." "It was rotten enough. I know. Mike." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. and come to a small school like this. isn't it?" or words to that effect. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings." "No. Smith told me you couldn't have done." "Oh." "Of course. on the Chinese principle. no. for the second time in two days. no. rotten little hole. "Yes. "What rot!" he said. "I say. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment." "No. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. . after the way you've sweated. not playing myself. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have." "Of course not. Everybody's as keen as blazes. heaps. as it were: for now." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. I wouldn't have done it. He eluded the pitfall."Yes. I know. even if he had. really." "I didn't want to play myself. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say.

Dash this rain. so I don't see anything of him all day.C. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. when you get to know him. which won't hurt me. at the interval. We'd better be moving on." "I don't know that so much." . "I can't have done. I'm not sure that I care much. I must have looked rotten. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. As for the schools. till the interval. "By jove." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. of anything like it. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. They'd simply laugh at you. they're worse. because I'm certain. we've got a jolly hot lot. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record." Mike stopped. There's quite decent batting all the way through." "He isn't a bad sort of chap." "All right. I never thought of it before. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. lot a really good hammering." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. We sha'n't get a game to-day. there's the bell. anyhow. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. "_You_ were all right. As you're crocked." "What! They wouldn't play us. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. and really.C. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. with you and Smith."I've always been fairly keen on the place. and the bowling isn't so bad. "if that's any comfort to you. Downing or a black-beetle. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season." he said. If only we could have given this M. Hullo. who doesn't count. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. You'd better get changed." said Adair. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. now that you and Smith are turning out. and hang about in case. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. I've never had the gloves on in my life." said Mike. My jaw still aches. we'd walk into them." "It might clear before eleven. I wish we could play. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. with a grin. You see. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. I don't know which I'd least soon be. then." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. They began to laugh. We've got math. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing.

I'm pretty sure they would.C. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. For the moment I am baffled. I had a letter from Strachan. "By Jove. You come and have a shot. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. was agitated. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. captain. he worked at it both in and out of school. "A nuisance. and would be glad if Mike would step across. they would. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. That's the worst of being popular." Mike changed quickly. if you like. generally with abusive comments on its inventor." he said at last. Mr. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. leaving Psmith. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. At least. without looking up. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. match was accordingly scratched. edge away. Downing. and the first Sedleigh _v_." said Psmith. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. The messenger did not know. had not confided in him. with a message that Mr. it seemed. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. the captain. approaching Adair." said Psmith. If he wants you to stop to tea. 'Psmith is baffled. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. After which the M. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. and went off. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. We'll smash them. Meanwhile. regretfully agreed. Mike. after hanging about dismally. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. yesterday.'" .C. So they've got a vacant date. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning.C.C. The two teams. "this incessant demand for you. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. Mike and Psmith. And they aren't strong this year. The whisper flies round the clubs. M. wandering back to the house. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock."Yes. To which Adair. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms.

" said Psmith. "Which it was. "I didn't. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. "My dear man." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. pretty nearly. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg." "I know. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. by the way?" asked Psmith. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. "Me. "No." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing." "_Did_ you. he's been crawling about. I believe he's off his nut. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. As far as I can see."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. you know all about that." "He thinks I did it. dash it." said Mike shortly. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. . But. The thing's a stand-off. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. Give you a nice start in life." said Mike warmly." "Evidence!" said Mike. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. He as good as asked me to.

"Comrade Jackson. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. It is red paint. I have landed you. and reach up the chimney. Psmith listened attentively." "Yes. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. 'tis not blood." Psmith sighed. Of course I've got two pairs. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. That's how he spotted me.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. sickening thud. right in the cart. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. Be a man." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. it was like this. . meaning to save you unpleasantness. but one's being soled. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint." said Psmith. and is hiding it somewhere." "I don't know what the game is. so he thinks it's me. and it's nowhere about. "It _is_. It must have been the paint-pot." he said mournfully. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night.Why. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. "Say on!" "Well. with a dull." said Psmith." "It is true. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. if any. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed." said Mike. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. Get it over. But what makes him think that the boot." said Psmith. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. kneeling beside the fender and groping. In my simple zeal. and glared at it. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. "your boot. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. you were with him when he came and looked for them." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't.

" said Mike. and he said very well. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. This needs thought. which was me. I suppose not. so to speak. in connection with this painful affair. was it?" "Yes. I will think over the matter. and I said I didn't care. you see. too. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. in a moment of absent-mindedness." "I suppose not. I _am_ in the cart. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. I take it. when Mike had finished. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. I hope you'll be able to think of something. they're bound to guess why." . and forgot all about it? No? No. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it."This. That was why I rang the alarm bell. I hadn't painted his bally dog." "Sufficient. You never know. too." "Probably. that he is now on the war-path. "Not for a pretty considerable time. I can't. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude." "_He'll_ want you to confess." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. So. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. I say. then." "What exactly. "It _is_ a tightish place. and the chap who painted Sammy. then. The worst of it is. or some rot." said Psmith. taking it all round. collecting a gang. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. he's certain to think that the chap he chased." asked Psmith." "Possibly. You had better put the case in my hands. by any chance. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh." he said. I shall get landed both ways. and try to get something out of me. you can't prove an alibi." Psmith pondered. inspecting it with disfavour." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. that was about all. Masters are all whales on confession. "quite sufficient. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. You see. Downing chased me that night." "Well. are the same. and--well. If I can't produce this boot." he admitted. he must take steps. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned.

" Mike got up. sir. when the housemaster came in. "An excellent likeness. Simply stick to stout denial." he added. "Is Mr. Thence." said Psmith." A small boy. Don't go in for any airy explanations. caught sight of him. who had leaned back in his chair. heaved himself up again. . he allowed Mike to go on his way. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog." "Ha!" said Mr. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Jackson. Jackson will be with him in a moment. "Don't go." said Psmith. passed away." said Mike to Psmith. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. who had just been told it was like his impudence. when Psmith. answered the invitation. "Tell Willie. He was examining a portrait of Mr." said Psmith. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. sir. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. Stout denial is the thing. He had not been gone two minutes. Downing shortly. at the same dignified rate of progress. The postman was at the door when he got there. and. Come in. "Tell him to write. "See how we have trained them." said Mr. Downing. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. He was. "_You're_ all right. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. "They now knock before entering. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. "All this is very trying. "that Mr. "Well." The emissary departed. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid." He turned to the small boy. Smith. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. and requested to wait. it seemed.There was a tap at the door. wrapped in thought." "I told you so. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith." suggested Psmith. Downing which hung on the wall. "Just you keep on saying you're all right." he said." said Psmith encouragingly. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. You can't beat it." With which expert advice. "Oh. I say.

with a summary of the evidence which Mr." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. but boys nearly always do." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. do not realise this. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute."I did it. who committed the--who painted my dog. sir. but anybody. "but----" "Not at all. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. "Mr. A voice without said. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. After the first surprise. what it got was the dramatic interruption. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. As for Psmith . There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. The atmosphere was heavy. Masters. Downing. "I do not think you fully realise. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. it was not Jackson. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. unsupported by any weighty evidence. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. He could not believe it. Downing to see you. as he sat and looked at Mike. It was a kid's trick. as a rule. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. would have thought it funny at first. The headmaster was just saying. Downing had laid before him. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint." said Mr. Jackson. Smith. Mr." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. sir. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. "No. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial." said Psmith. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. Downing. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. except possibly the owner of the dog. As it happened. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. It was a boy in the same house. and the headmaster. especially if you really are innocent. "I would not have interrupted you. felt awkward.

Mike felt. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. Downing was saying.having done it. So Mr. tell Smith that I should like to see him. when again there was a knock. certainly. we know--. Downing. if possible. If Psmith had painted Sammy. what did you wish to say. hardly listening to what Mr. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. "Yes. who was nodding from time to time. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. Downing leaped in his chair. Adair. Well. looking at Mr. and er--. "Adair!" ." He had reached the door. "Come in. Downing." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. Jackson. Mr. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. with calm triumph. "Certainly. Downing----" "It was Dunster." said the Head. as if he had been running. sir." said the headmaster. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. Mike simply did not believe it. It was Adair. "Ah." "It wasn't Jackson who did it." he said. "Oh. "May I go. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. sir." "Yes. "Smith!" said the headmaster. sir?" he said. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. no. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. sir. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Mr. Adair. He sat there. This was bound to mean the sack. sir. if you are going back to your house." "No." said Mr. or even thankful. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion.

Well. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. Downing snorted. too. Downing. sir." "Smith told you?" said Mr. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. And why. Downing had gone over to see you. who. two minutes after Mr. but not particularly startling. "Adair!" "Yes. should be innocent. he remembered dizzily. "Yes. of all people? Dunster. Downing's voice was thunderous. That Mike. for a rag--for a joke. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. and that. Downing at once. despite the evidence against him. sir. I'd better tell Mr. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. He rolled about. "But Adair. sir. sir. sir." "I see. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. sir. "Yes. that Psmith. Why Dunster. sir. if Dunster had really painted the dog. His brain was swimming. was curious. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. He has left the school. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. and he told me that Mr." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. Then I met Smith outside the house. had left the school at Christmas. It was a . sir. in the words of an American author. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. He stopped the night in the village. had played a mean trick on him. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. the dog. I tried to find Mr." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. but he wasn't in the house. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. Downing. sir. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody." "_Laughed!_" Mr. was guiltless. perhaps." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match." said the headmaster." Mr. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. But that Adair should inform him.

He arrived soon after Mr. sir. sir. while it lasted. but. discreditable thing to have done. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. Barlow. Adair." said the headmaster. Barlow. "It is still raining. He was cheerful. "I shall write to him." "H'm. I suppose. "kindly go across to Mr." said the headmaster. Ask him to step up. Downing. feels that some slight apology is expected from him." said Mr. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. "Mr. He gave the impression of one who. though sure of his welcome. Downing. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. sir. sir." "Another freak of Dunster's. Outwood's house. sir." said Mr. the silence was quite solid. "You wished to see me. It was not long. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality." he said. Smith is waiting in the hall. sir. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. as the butler appeared. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. pressing a bell. Smith." "If you please. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. Smith." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient." he observed.foolish. If he did not do it. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog." "The sergeant. sir?" "Sit down." "Yes." "In the hall!" "Yes. The door was opened. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. saying that he would wait. . "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. but slightly deprecating." "Thank you. Mr." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner.

Mr." "But. "Smith.Mr. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. sir. "Smith. "Er--Smith." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. "The craze for notoriety. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. as a child." "Yes. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. sir. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. "It is remarkable. "The curse of the present age. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. Smith--" began the headmaster. do you remember ever having had. Downing burst out." "What!" cried the headmaster. Jackson." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. sir. Then he went on. "how frequently. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. there was silence. sir. "I should like to see you alone for a moment." he said." proceeded Psmith placidly. "Smith." he replied sadly." He made a motion towards the door. but have you--er. let us say. When he and Psmith were alone. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. He paused again." . Psmith bent forward encouragingly. "Er--Smith. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. when a murder has been committed.

" said Psmith.. "What's he done?" "Nothing. sir. We had a very pleasant chat. sir----" Privately. "but. quite so. "It was a very wrong thing to do. That was the whole thing. I shall." said Psmith cheerfully. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. sir. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. "Good-night. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr." said Psmith meditatively to himself. Downing's dog. at last." ... then. the proper relations boy and--Well."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. This is strictly between ourselves." said the headmaster hurriedly. "Of course. We later. sir. "Well?" said Mike. You are a curious boy. "By no means a bad old sort.. Smith. Good-night. let me hear what you wish to course. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. sir. if you do not wish it." said the headmaster." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. Of course.." said Psmith. "Well. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. but he said nothing." "Well. "Not a bad old sort." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know." There was a pause. tell nobody." He held out his hand. Smith." said Adair. Smith. of course. Smith. never mind that for the present. and then I tore myself away. of sometimes apt to forget. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. For the moment. it was like this. You think." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so.. sir. "You _are_ the limit. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. as he walked downstairs.

for it was a one day match. all the same. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over." Psmith's expression was one of pain." "Well. "By the way. "you wrong me. I'm surprised at you. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner." said Adair." Psmith moaned. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. Psmith thanked him courteously." * * * * * "I say. and that Sedleigh had lost. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. You aren't talking to the Old Man now." said Mike obstinately. and Wrykyn. you're a marvel." said Mike." said Adair. "And it was jolly good of you. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. Adair. "Good-night." "And give Comrade Downing. I should think they're certain to. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. too. There is a certain type of . "my very best love. "My dear Comrade Jackson. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. They walked on towards the houses." "Well. chuck it. I hope the dickens they'll do it." said Mike. "They've got a vacant date. I believe you did."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing." said Psmith. who had led on the first innings." said he. You make me writhe." said Mike suddenly. Psmith. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. In a way one might have said that the game was over." "What's that?" asked Psmith." "Oh. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. when you see him.

Sedleigh. The team listened. Whereas Wrykyn. and he had fallen after hitting one four. Stone. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. and he used it. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. and were clean bowled. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Adair did not suffer from panic. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. It was likely to get worse during the day. as a rule. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. with the exception of Adair. that Wrykyn were weak this season. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. Sedleigh would play batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. whatever might happen to the others. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. He had had no choice but to take first innings. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. this in itself was a calamity. with his score at thirty-five. assisted by Barnes. but were not comforted. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. playing back to half-volleys. Unless the first pair make a really good start. declined to hit out at anything. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. the Wrykyn slow bowler. Psmith. and. several of them. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. and the others. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. as he did repeatedly. a collapse almost invariably ensues. The weather had been bad for the last week. He had an enormous reach. from time immemorial. and . with Barnes not out sixteen. crawled to the wickets. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. It was useless for Adair to tell them. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. but then Wrykyn cricket. had played inside one from Bruce.C. Wrykyn had then gone in. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. Experience counts enormously in school matches. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. and Mike. Mike. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. the bulwark of the side. and from whom. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. Sedleigh had never been proved. Ten minutes later the innings was over. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. for seventy-nine. on Mike's authority. Robinson. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball.C. so Adair had chosen to bat first. July the twentieth. the team had been all on the jump.

The deficit had been wiped off. and which he hit into the pavilion. He treated all the bowlers alike. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. when Psmith was bowled. But Adair and Psmith. So Drummond and Rigby. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. and the collapse ceased. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. with an hour all but five minutes to go. Seventeen for three. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. and refused to hit at the bad. Adair declared the innings closed. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. and lashed out stoutly. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. but it was a comfort. all but a dozen runs. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. had never been easy. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. But. who had taken six wickets. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. They were playing all the good balls. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. which was Psmith's. As Mike reached the pavilion. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. they felt. and he was convinced that. at any rate. proceeded to play with caution. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. at fifteen. helped by the wicket. the next pair. especially Psmith. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. skied one to Strachan at cover. Adair bowled him. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. And when. restored to his proper frame of mind. was getting too dangerous. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. A quarter past six struck. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. And they had hit. having another knock. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. It doesn't help my . The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. who had just reached his fifty. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. And when Stone came in. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. Changes of bowling had been tried. As is usual at this stage of a match. Psmith got the next man stumped. if they could knock Bruce off. their nervousness had vanished. his slows playing havoc with the tail. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. as they were crossing over. The time was twenty-five past five. two runs later. and after him Robinson and the rest. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them.

" "He bowled awfully well. That's what Adair was so keen on. "I feel like a beastly renegade. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. discussing things in general and the game in particular. playing against Wrykyn. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. he's satisfied. because they won't hit at them. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground." "Yes. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn." "I suppose they will." said Psmith. Still. diving to the right. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. and Mike. and chucked it up. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. After that the thing was a walk-over. is to get the thing started. hitting out. was a shade too soon. "he was going about in a sort of trance. There were twenty-five minutes to go. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. the great thing. The batsman. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. and the tail. collapsed uncompromisingly. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. I'm glad we won." said Mike. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Five minutes before." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. As a matter of fact. Sedleigh was on top again. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler." said Psmith. They can get on fixtures with decent . "I say. Incidentally. I shall have left. Wrykyn will swamp them. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Adair will have left. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. Adair's a jolly good sort. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. and it'll make him happy for weeks. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. when Adair took the ball from him.leg-breaks a bit. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. you see. "Still. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. and five wickets were down. got to it as he was falling.

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